Dirty Dancing theatre review

Dirty Dancing theatre review

Dirty Dancing theatre review

Tina Lofthouse is wowed by this high octane stage show of the classic film


As a child of the 80s, I have to admit that I adored the film Dirty Dancing – posters of Patrick Swayze adorned my walls (along with the rest of the Brat Pack) and friends and I would sing the soundtrack into our hairbrush microphones.

Admittedly, the story offers quite a dark topic for its audience – on the surface, it’s all 1960s holiday camps, high kicks and young love – but the plot centres on something really horrible happening to one of the main characters (I won’t give it away – even though I’m sure EVERYONE must have seen the film, surely?). The plot follows girl (Baby) who meets boy (Johnny), boy is from the wrong side of the tracks… girl helps out Johnny’s friend, a dancer, who has been knocked up by the camp’s love rat… with consequences for all. And it’s down to Baby and Johnny to ensure the dance show must go on.

Into the mix, there’s fabulous music, much gyrating, and some comedy moments to lighten things up. The film’s saccharine schmaltz (and Swayze) stole our hearts.

So, how on earth do you take an iconic film and put it on the stage? The answer is faithfully. Everything about this production (at Richmond until Saturday and touring) is taken straight from the film – even Baby’s endearing giggles as Johnny moves his hand down her rib cage as they practice their dance moves.

And it’s no less for it. There’s all the songs we love (Hungry Eyes, The Time of My Life, Hey! Baby to name a few) although some fade out rather quickly as each scene rushes to the next – the pacing is frantic here, which keeps things moving but at the expense of allowing some time for us to see the character development playing out.

But none of this really matters – the show absolutely delivers in giving us ‘the time of our lives’ – it’s just what we need to cheer us up after the gloom of the past 18 months.

The choreography is simply spectacular and the music will have you wanting to dance in the aisles. Michael O’Reilly (Johnny) commands the stage, Kira Malou is excellent as she transforms from shy teen to star dancer, and Carlie Milner’s moves are just incredible. Casting is spot on – the actors chosen even resemble their film counterparts. The rest of the cast and the musicians are also supremely talented and it’s a joy to watch the sheer energy at work.

A pure nostalgia fest for those who loved the film. And for those who didn’t – this is just a great night out.

Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage, 5 – 9 October, Richmond Theatre, and touring.