Broadway ‘Billy’ brilliant

'Quantum' kicks off

DESPITE OPENING glitches for “Billy Elliot: the Musical,” I now feel sorry for other B’way producers opening their shows against it. They probably don’t stand a chance for the Tonys, because “Billy” is breathtakingly brilliant. Finally, the current fanciful abuse of the word — “awesome” — seems appropriate. The three pubescent boys who play Billy – David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish — are so wonderful that some fans go back to catch each of them. So here, also, kudos to Haydn Gwynne as Billy’s dance instructor. (She won the Olivier Award in the London production.) Carole Shelley and Santino Fontana also score in this musical about a coal miner’s kid who wants to learn ballet. I loved Elton John’s music when I first saw this show in London and likewise, Lee Hall’s book and lyrics. Bravo to director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling. Think kindly of the Imperial Theater’s stage managers; they deal with at least three stage mothers of these fabulous kiddo dancers each performance.

* * *

“SHHHHHHHH!”

That was the sound heard as the lights went down at the special NYC screening of “Quantum of Solace.” Who was that shushing the noisy audience? 007 himself, Daniel Craig.

Of course the joke here is that the first 10 minutes of “Quantum” is an explosively loud, astonishing car and foot chase between Bond and various villains. It’s an incredible segment, but nothing could be heard above the onscreen din.

The premiere/screening benefited the Tribeca Film Institute, and was the usual madhouse, outside the Loews Theater on 68th and Broadway. The screaming when Daniel Craig arrived could be heard blocks away.

Even if you are jaded about this sort of thing, certain nights have a bit of the old glamour. Craig put that vintage vibe on this event. Julia Stiles, Robert DeNiro and Debra Messing–in towering how-can-she-walk heels — got healthy roars from the crowd.

THE “QUANTUM” after-party at Tavern on the Green was packed and dark. So dim in fact that somebody complained, “Turn up the lights, I can’t see Jon Hamm!” The “Mad Men” hunk heard this and laughed good-naturedly. The buffets groaned with all things fattening. Bartenders shook and stirred lethal “Quantum”-themed drinks.

One of the happiest people at the party was Patty Newburger. She, along with Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Craig Hatkoff, David Earls and (most vitally) Jeffrey Wright, put together the “Quantum” event. Patty said, “Tickets went out on Sept. 15, just as the financial crisis broke, but we have exceeded our expectations — more than half a million dollars for Tribeca!”end

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