When you need a night off from Disney, try ‘Billy Elliot’ — but leave the kids at home

Remember theater in Chicago before kids? You know, when you went to shows and didn’t cringe at swear words and sexual innuendos?

This summer my kids and I will make it to “Shrek,” and I’m sure we’ll love every minute of the green ogre’s story. But I also found time to do something just for me as an adult: I headed downtown to see “Billy Elliot, the Musical” at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Let me be clear right here: This is a show for adults. There’s an entire song with the f-bomb in every other line, but boy did I need a night of something besides Disney. Four boys play the part of Billy, who longs to be a ballet dancer, not a boxer like his dad wants, along with a slew of other talented kids in the production. Made me wish I’d forced my daughter to continue ballet and voice lessons.

The musical lasted three hours, but the production moved quickly from heart-stopping clashes between striking miners and police to heart-wrenching conversations between Billy and his dead mother. I found myself humming the tunes as I walked to my car after the show.

“Billy Elliot” will be closing this winter, so plan your girls’ night or date night before the show moves on. Then go ahead and get your “Shrek” tickets to make the kids happy.

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