Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage – Dominion Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Eleanor Bergstein

Director: Federico Bellone

Baby is once again out of the corner.The hit 80s staple Dirty Dancing is back on stage and ready to give fans the time of their life. Cue audience members with Hungry Eyes screaming every time Johnny takes off his shirt, and audible swoons when the iconic lift scene that everyone has been waiting for is performed live.

Using the original 1987 script by Eleanor Bergstein, audiences are treated to the classic romance between Johnny (Michael O’Reilly) and Baby (Kira Malou). Raised in different worlds, Johnny spends his days entertaining the rich as a dance instructor, while Baby has the world at her feet – spending the summer with her family at popular vacation resort Kellerman’s. Their worlds collide and love blossoms, but as with most love stories, the path to happiness isn’t easy. The original script hasn’t had a revamp, so it is as satisfyingly cheesy as it ever was.

O’Reilly captures the late Patrick Swayze’s brooding charm fantastically and, judging by the wolf whistles throughout the theatre every time he appears on stage he is definitely a perfect casting choice. His on-stage chemistry with Malou is flawless, easily allowing the audience to buy into the relationship between them. She manages to capture Baby’s likeable vulnerability and innocence with ease and endearing allure.

Austin Wilks’ choreography is nothing short of brilliant. Each dance routine is perfection, with the cast rivalling Strictly for having the most twists, high kicks and lifts throughout the show. Carlie Milner playing Penny, is immensely talented, dominating each step and commandeering attention with her impressive rhythm. The dances work perfectly with costume designer Jennifer Irwin’s 60’s style swing dresses and bold patterns pleasingly capturing the eye. The romantic interchanging backdrop of Kellerman’s created by set designer Roberto Comotti, is another win within this production – although relatively simple, still impressively beautiful, especially when the ‘sun’ sets and the fairylights come out.

At points, the scene transitions feel a bit clunky, with perfunctory scenes and references given the nod to please die-hard fans, rushed through for the sake of throwing them in. While the story isn’t complex – a bit more flow or development would have been welcome, to avoid what at points, felt like a hurried montage of interactions broken up with quick dance routines. Director Federico Bellone utilises the stage well however, with background characters and dancers still able to shine within each act.

If you’re a big fan of classic romance movies, then Dirty Dancing won’t disappoint! The show is pumped full of nostalgia, throwback music and iconic moments, so don’t be surprised if you end up mambo’ing all the way home.

Runs until 16 April 2022

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Nostalgic Delights

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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