Billy Elliot – Feet In Two Cultures

John Lahr finds himself intrigued by the new “Billy Elliot” musical that has earned raves in London. “The British love musicals; they just don’t do them very well. The problem, it seems to me, is spiritual. The jazz of American optimism, which lends elation and energy to the form, is somehow alien to the ironic British spirit. At its buoyant core, the American musical is the expression of a land of plenty. England, on the other hand, is a land of scarcity—the Land of No, as a friend of mine calls it. Billy Elliot is fascinating because it situates itself precisely on the cultural fault line between the two traits.”