Dirty Dancing

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There can’t be many people over 40 who do not know this story, in fact I would say there can’t be many over 20 who don’t know this classic story – it surely has been watched by every teenager since it came out in 1987.

Being such a popular film, bringing it to the stage should be reasonably straightforward as you only have to get the key elements in place and you’ll be onto a winner. The formula is all there: the story, the music, the characters, the moves and not forgetting the classic lines – there isn’t a great deal to have to imagine up from scratch to appease the multiple tastes of an audience, therefore it’s all about the implementation…

The expectation of this being a good show was exceptionally high from the ladies, of all ages, in the audience. You could feel the anticipation as we were ushered to our seats.

A quick story set-up for the arrival of guests to the Kellerman’s complex and we were into the first night dinner & dance evening with Penny (Simone Covele) and Johnny (Micheal O’Reilly) showcasing their talents. Oooooooooo this was going to be gooooood, their first dance was exactly what we wanted to see: Jonny is tall, muscular and very good looking and Penny is sexy as hell and her dancing was spellbinding. We’re happy as our expectations are met within the first few minutes.

Baby (Kira Malou) was engaging and the role was executed perfectly, in fact all the actors were top level.

The scenery was effective: A rotating unit each side of the stage for exterior and interior scenes that needed a bit of extra furniture and the large backdrop was used as a screen to show whether it was outside on the complex, inside the main hall, inside the staff quarters…..a great way to depict the many different and quick scene changes, yet not in a way where it’s largeness overwhelmed the rest of the stage – it worked. Yes even the log and water scenes were there and of course all the lines, which of course got cheers.

First half was very good at moving the story along at a good pace with everything there that needed to be. It was a great first half and we were all satisfied with the humour, the music, the lines…very happy. The second half had much less of a flow, lots of quick scenes to get the story in therefore it did miss the build-up of tension of Jonny trying to prove his innocence.

The use of three live musicians and a singer to enhance the great music, added a lovely dynamic to the production. 

I do have to say that Baby and Jonny lacked the chemistry of a love story and Johnny was a bit stiff in some places – his most serious scene was lost in the whooping coming from the ladies in the audience as we’d all just seen his bottom.

Did they nail the last scene? A unambiguous YES. They actors really looked like they were absorbing the energy from the audience and most were on their feet with the cheers and the applause.

Dirty Dancing as a stage production? This one nailed it.

Photo copyright Alastair Muir

This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE

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