Billionaire Boy On Stage | Review & Top Tips

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Billionaire Boy Review & Top Tips

David Walliams' Billionaire Boy is showing at Sunderland Empire this weekend and tickets are available for performances on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May from just £13 + bf.

Find out more and book here:

Billionaire Boy shares the story of Joe Spud who is twelve years old and also happens to be the richest boy in the country. He has a sports car, two pet crocodiles and receives a whopping £100,000 a week pocket money. 

But sadly, the one thing Joe really wants (a true friend) is the one thing he doesn't have. So he leaves his posh school and enrols in his local comp in search of the thing that money can't buy. 

Billionaire Boy Review & Top Tips

I watched Billionaire Boy with Steve, Dee (13) and Jack (11). All kids are different but Harry (15) deemed himself to be too mature for this one and opted out. I personally think this was for the best and would say this production is best suited to ages 5-12 (+ families/friends)

Jack is a huge David Walliams fan and every Christmas he watches the TV adaptations of his books on loop. He knows the story of Billionaire Boy well but the rest of us watched with no prior knowledge of the story or what to expect. 

This may sound strange to some but Gangsta Granny is actually one of the most moving and poignant productions I have watched on stage. Billionaire Boy is brought to life by the same award winning team (Birmingham Stage Company) so I had high hopes. 

Billionaire Boy Review & Top Tips

Our review

Unfortunately our time at Billionaire Boy was cut short as everyone's worst nightmare happened.

Just after the second half Jack projectile vomitted everywhere. This was completely out of the blue (he hadn't even had any sweets or ice cream!) and I am so sorry to everyone around us. It can't have enhanced their evening at all. I have to say though, the staff were brilliant at helping us clean up. We made a quick exit soon after. 

We did watch the first half unscathed though and the theme of the play was very topical at the moment and I couldn't help compare the problems the billionaire boy (and dad) had to the couple who were in the news today after their big lottery win. 

I'm not sure I'd be telling everyone if I was on the rich list and I think I would probably try and hide it like Joe too. Easier said than done I think, especially when your dad lands on the school field in his helicopter.

When you're millionaires (or billionaires), how do you know who your real friends are or if they are only being nice to you because you have a bit of cash? How can you tell if someone is genuine? 

This theme is played out well on stage with Joe's dad's girlfriend presenting him with a long wish list of birthday gifts he must buy her and even the school dinner lady being a shoulder to cry on but then shoe horning in that she'd like a new hip if Joe could possibly spare her £10k. 

I think despite Joe being a billionaire, he is still very relatable and experiences the same kinds of problems and issues many of us do as children. We learn that having a bit of cash doesn't always make life easier and you can't always throw money at your problems to make them go away. 

There was no denying this production was based around a David Walliams' story and his typical characters such as the boy with no mum, the evil stepmum, the friendly corner shop owner, school bullies and a dinner lady serving disgusting meals including badger and onion pie or jacket potato pie with sock cheese were all part of the story. 

It's a tried and tested formula that the kids in the audience loved and there were a couple of laughs for us grown ups too. 

My favourite scenes were in the school with teachers turning their favourite phrases such as 'walk, don't run' into a catchy song which we were all nodding along to. I chatted with the kids in the interval and they said their teachers say the same old things they used to say when we were at school. Some things never change. 

We had a good laugh at the private school boys and their little song about what they get up to including learning how to not pay their taxes and how to find loopholes. 

There is a small cast and each member plays a few different characters. They're all bold on stage and each character is instantly recognisable, even if it's an adult playing a child. The range is fantastic. 

At times it felt like we were watching a musical and there were quite a few songs which I wasn't expecting, I really enoyed the ensemble numbers. 

Joe's family are billionaires after making their fortune in the toilet roll business and you can expect a fair bit of toilet humour which obviously the kids lapped up. There's a bit of audience participation too. 

Bullies and bullying is a theme throughout which might be upsetting to some. There is a scene where someone gets made to climb into a bin and has their chocolate stolen. I haven't seen the end but I am guessing the situation turns around and there is hope. 

We are gutted we didn't get to see the end, especially Jack who said the stage version was even better than the book (and TV adaptation). If your kids like David Walliams', they're definitely going to enjoy the show. 

I liked the theme of friendship and what it really means to be a good friend. Billionaire Boy isn't sad or poignant like Gangsta Granny - it's more of a relatable light hearted production with giggles and songs. 

Top Tips for Watching Billionaire Boy at Sunderland Empire

  • We parked at St Mary's Car Park which is a large multi story car park with over 400 spaces, just across the road from Sunderland Empire and free between 3pm and midnight Mon-Fri. Postcode SR1 3AH 

  • If you are looking for pre-theatre dining, I recommend Mexico 70 across the road from Sunderland Empire 
  • There is a theme of bullying and having no friends throughout which may be upsetting to some 

  • Covid Passes are not required. The staff will be wearing face coverings and it is recommended you wear one when walking around the auditorium (although not compulsory) 

  • I would recommend to families with children aged 5+. You don't need to have read the book to enjoy the show

  • Bring a £1 coin if you'd like to hire binoculars at your seat 

  • You can read about accessibility here 

  • Show length is 1 hour 50 minutes including interval. 

  • Travel by Metro for free when travelling to/from a show up to two hours before and after a permormance. Find out more here

  • You can order drinks and snacks to be delivered to your seat in the interval - look out for the QR codes on the chairs 

  • You can also purchase ice cream in the interval or pop to the bar for drinks (plastic cups for the auditorium) 

  • If you'd like a booster seat, these can be hired for £1 from the bar 

Tickets are available at Sunderland Empire for the following dates:
  • Friday 20 May (10:30am and 7pm)
  • Saturday 21 May (2:30pm and 7pm)
  • Sunday 22 May (11am and 3pm) 

Billionaire Boy On Stage | Review & Top Tips


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