The songs were not particularly memorable. I don't remember any repetition or development of musical motifs in the second half, except for the sentimental duet sang by Billy and his mum. Fox Jackson-Keen, who was a new Billy, had stage presence, but was always theatrical, unlike the very natural Jonty Bowyer, who played his chunky gay pal. Jackie Clune was wonderful as the dance teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, bringing a bittersweetness to the role.
The dance numbers were well executed, but it was weird to see striking miners dancing. Also odd, though crowd-pleasing, was the Disney-like number when dresses on hangers danced with the two boys playing dress-up. In a show about ballet, there was too much tap-dancing. Jackson-Keen was a talented and committed dancer, but there are severe limits to what a child-dancer can do, limits which extended to all the pieces involving Billy. The final song was not as rousing as such a rousing story should be; during the curtain call a company dance, with the men putting on tutus, was tacked on to try to lift the show.
The show ran for a full three hours, which felt an hour too long. The Christmas pantomime, mocking Margaret Thatcher, put up by the miners as a play-within-a-play, detracted from the main story, and could have been cut, though that was a part of the show that earned it critical kudos for being political. The problem is not with politicizing a genre not usually political; the problem is that the politics should remain background to the real story: what does it mean for a working class boy to aspire to dance when ballet is an art associated with the rich and the effeminate?
In the film, Billy's father and older brother see themselves as emasculated by his ballet, while the miners see themselves as emasculated by their loss of jobs, and then the failure of the strike. The film probes, sympathetically but acutely, working class male anxieties. That subtlety is gone in the musical which celebrates working class solidarity unabashedly, and denounces Thatcherite politics. Its own politics gets confused when, during the Christmas pantomime, a miner mocks Thatcher by dressing up as the Iron Lady. So is cross-dressing a criticism of gender-crossing, or a celebration of it? If Thatcher is to be attacked, she should be attacked as a politician, and not as a woman. To do the latter is sexist, whether the attacker is straight or gay.