Billed as Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, that is exactly what is delivered, and delivered well. There are obviously a few changes required for the stage, a bit of extra padding, but in essence it is a live performance of the film, with all of the dancing, music and cheesy dialogue you’d expect. Great stuff.
Over the two hours duration Kira Malou as Baby skillfully portrays the transition from awkward self-conscious movement, through her various stages of improvement until at last she becomes the confident dancer. Muscular Michael O’Reilly as Johnny Castle is a crowd favourite, particularly during on stage costume changes when he divests himself of various bits of clothing. (I can envisage some groups consuming too much alcohol and going a bit overboard with the reactions, thankfully not on this occasion though.) Accents are a little questionable, some seem more pronounced at times, but it’s the great dancing, especially the lifts, that really carry the show. And O’Reilly delivers the ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner line’ with relish to the delight of the audience. There’s more mesmerising dancing from Carlie Milner as Penny Johnson and a special shout out to Lizzie Ottley as Lisa Houseman with her suitably cringy talent show performance, Thomas Sutcliffe is suitably smarmy as Neil Kellerman, but really, everyone does an outstanding job.
Costumes, wigs and makeup successfully capture the look of the original film, making individual cast members resemble their on-screen characters quite well. Mr Schumacher (Mark Faith) is perhaps the one character portrayed completely differently, to the point I wondered who he was supposed to be at first. Roberto Comotti’s set is deceptively simple allowing for the action to take place throughout Kellerman’s, whilst still ensuring amble space for the big dance numbers. The iconic scene of Baby and Johnny practicing lifts in the lake of course has to be included; We all know how difficult it is to do and tonight it almost worked; almost but not quite.
Occasionally scenes feel somewhat rushed, although to be honest it doesn’t matter too much when everyone knows the dialogue anyway. Let’s face it, it’s pretty straightforward stuff. Strangely, at other times there’s an unexpected pregnant pause, which I suspect was due to something back stage being not quite ready – these things happen and will no doubt be ironed out. Another minor niggle would be that the excellent band drown out the singing a couple of times.
The show is undoubtably targeted at the many Dirty Dancing fans, and if you happen to fall into that category it really is worth getting tickets for this. An enjoyable evening of exuberant music and dancing, performed by a talented cast – a crowd pleasing couple of hours of fun.
Written by: Eleanor Bergstein
Directed by: Federico Bellone
Produced by: Karl Sydow
Choreography by: Austin Wilks
Dirty Dancing is currently booking until 16 April. You can book tickets with LoveTheatre via the below link. (Note: this link is an affiliate link and Everything Theatre will receive a small commision if you book via this. We’d appreciate your support, it helps us pay our bills.)