Belgrade Theatre review: Billionaire Boy
By BARBARA GOULDEN
Billionaire Boy, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, to Feb 19.
For fans of David Walliams' stories this musical dramatisation of Billionaire Boy
will be a real - if unsurprising - treat.
Having said that a realistic looking helicopter landing on stage did make for a pretty surprising image and I did enjoy the choreography at the toilet paper factory as members of the Birmingham Stage Company get into their stride.
The plot itself is delightful. Matthew Gordon plays Joe, the Billionaire Boy whose dad has made money by inventing a new type of toilet tissue. It may be embarrassing for Joe but it's revolutionised their world with sports cars
and pet crocodiles, plus £1,000 birthday gifts.
Sadly, this poor little rich boy has nobody to spend his money with, as everybody at his posh new school hates him.
Dad (Matthew Mellalieu) doesn't notice as
he's too busy trying to find a new woman in his life after his wife, Joe's Mum, has run off with his scout master.
The versatile cast double up on some parts so that when Joe succeeds in his bid to attend a normal comprehensive his heavily disguised dad (Matthew again) transforms into school bully Dave.
Dave is gleefully aided and abetted by Sue (Rosie Coles) who reappears later in the show as the shapely Sapphire.
Personally I could have done without the endearing newsagent Raj (Tuhin Chisti) sounding like Apu from The Simpsons or dinner lady (Emma Matthews) channelling her in
inner Victoria Wood. But this was a drama for children and the message that money can't buy you happiness came over loud, clear and with a lot of lavatorial songs calculated to delight the under-12s.
If the show wasn't really aimed at me, here's the view of my 11-year-old grandaughter Ellie Walters (pictured above right) who was at the show with her twin sister Pippa (below right):
"I thought the play had very catchy songs and a very wholesome ending to it. I was amazed by the helicopter scene and thought it was a good interpretation of the book.
"My favourite characters were Joe and Raj although he felt a bit of a steretype."
"I thought children aged between eight and 12 would enjoy it the most."
Tickets from: https://www.belgrade.co.uk/
Main picture: Mark Douet.