Billionaire Boy at the Garrick Theater, London
The return of the musical version of David Walliams Billionaire boy in London’s West End has sparked much debate between my eight-year-old co-critics about the merits of this production versus that of RSC / Tim Minchin Mathilde (to which they unanimously awarded 5 stars). I’ll move on to the end as an adult referee: Neal Foster’s Walliams adaptation Can’t Touch Mathilde but the very fact that two siblings on the last day of year 4 even got the argument is a nice endorsement of the new show’s merits indeed.
Back to the autopsy of my twins in a nearby pizzeria: they separated according to the sexes. My daughter gave Billionaire boy 4 stars for entertainment value but pointed out that she always listens to tracks from Mathilde today when she couldn’t really hum any of the tunes from Billionaire boy even a few hours later. She’s right. Jak Poore’s score is perfect to keep the show going and the youthful energy kept going, but it’s neither memorable nor transcendent. Kids will appreciate it, but, as a designated adult, you are more likely to tolerate than stomp your foot. The same goes for dance numbers which are fun and wacky but also unsightly and will not be nominated for any choreography or performance by Olivier.
It should be noted, however, that this is an 8-handed multi-reel touring production that is cunning and economical with its resources and has not had the same investment as the biggest musicals in the world. West End. As such, it will therefore cost you around half the ticket price of one of the extra high production value shows like The Lion King. Billionaire boy It might not be the most memorable theatrical experience your family has ever had, but it is a cheerful, reasonably priced outing for summer vacation in a tough year. The continued Covid security measures at the Garrick Theater are also reassuring; the seats are well spaced and both the staff and the patrons of the place seemed conscientious.
When it comes to comedy, history and morals, my son wouldn’t be moved by his opinion that Billionaire boy is superior to both Roald Dahl’s original novel and the RSC musical adaptation of Mathilde. He was gripped by the intrigues of this play about bullies and justice. When the story shows restored decency and the value of love above all else celebrated, I could see that my boy was visibly relieved and cheerful even before he described his enjoyment of theatrical storytelling (which he did). did vigorously during the debriefing). He voted for more than 5 stars, arguing that the sense of adventure and the staging (including a scooter chase scene) was captivating and praised Irfan Damani’s shopkeeper Raj.
While I found that the characters evoked the same sort of common stereotypes that have featured in Walliams’ work since the Little Brittany days, for my children, stupidity and simplicity have struck their funny bones. Billionaire boy is more children’s entertainment than family entertainment in the sense that there is no gratifying Pixar-style second meaning. Here he is in all his simplistic tropes of the British class system and his gentle toilet humor. But whatever: a show about the true value of friendship and love with a central motif that gives permission to say “down” over and over and the occasional experience of a stage helicopter is a pleasure for you. the primary school audience. Grab your Haribo and buckle up: kids will be entertained (and maybe a bit unruly with all the butt-related comedy) but you’ll tolerate it and enjoy their joy whether they’re a Walliams fan or not.
Comment from Mary Beer
From the award-winning West End producers of Gangsta Granny, here is this stunning new production from David Walliams’ hit story Billionaire Boy!
Joe Spud is twelve years old and the richest boy in the country! He has his own sports car, two crocodiles as pets and £ 100,000 of spending money a week! But what Joe doesn’t have is a friend. So he decides to quit his fancy school and start at the local school. But things don’t go as planned for Joe and life becomes a roller coaster as he tries to find what money can’t buy!
After a sold-out Gangsta Granny series at the Garrick Theater in 2017, the Birmingham Stage Company is delighted to return to the Garrick this summer with Billionaire Boy.
2 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0HH