The silly-sensation also known as Billionaire boy is the hot new musical adapted from David Walliams’ smash hit book, and is gracing Cardiff’s New Theatre from 26 February – 2nd March. A global phenomenon in the children’s literature universe, David Walliams boasts worldwide sales of over 19.5 million books in more than 53 languages. Even more impressively three of Walliams’ books have been awarded Children’s Book of the Year at the National Book Awards. Additionally, Ratburger, The Boy in the Dress, Mr Stink and Gangsta Granny have all been adapted for TV. Written by Miranda Cooper and Nick Coler the musical is on it’s world-premier tour and thus far been well received from UK audiences. Therefore, it’s safe to say I was filled with anticipation for the opening night.
The basic premise of the performance follows the story of Joe Spud, son of Factory worker Len who made his fortunes overnight by revolutionising the way the world uses toilet paper. He does so with a product rather subtly coined “Bum Fresh” (Wet on one side, dry on the other). Len becomes embroiled with the billionaire lifestyle and frivolously spends to his hearts content. Lavishly spoiling himself, his entourage and his self-confessed gold-digger girlfriend Saphire Diamond. All the while Joe is left to tackle his challenges alone, but his life is changed forever when he decides to ditch private school for the local comprehensive as a chance at being a “normal” boy.
At first glance the plot sounds rather shallow and in many respects it is. However, moments of clarity exist within the madness, such as a particularly poignant scene where Joe’s bestie’s mum teaches his how to cook for himself and we learn the true fate of Joe’s mother. Stand out vocals certainly have to be awarded to Ryan Heenan (Joe Spud), Avita Jay (Sapphire / Raj), hitting every note both admirably and impressively considering the amount of dancing and shimmying. In particular, Heenan’s delivery was incredibly well received by children and parents alike, delivering an engaging and sensitive performance .
The underlying question of the production is can money truly buy happiness? Which in itself is no easy query to answer, but after a somewhat questionable first half Billionaire Boy surprisingly manages to answer it admirably in the second. Despite a number of the jokes falling flat and a disjointed rhythm in the narrative progression I left the theatre in a significantly better mood than when I entered. I’d highly recommend Billionaire boys for a family viewing, after all who doesn’t love a toilet gag once in a while.
Billionaire Boy the Musical plays at the New Theatre from Tuesday 26 February until Saturday 2 March 2019.
Tickets are available from the Box Office on (029) 2087 8889 and newtheatrecardiff.co.uk.