Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Choreographer: Kate Champion
Director: Sarah Tipple
Reviewer: Megan Pearce
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage is one of the most energetic musicals on the scene at the moment. The nostalgic numbers will undoubtedly make you want to pirouette home and dust off those dancing shoes!
Within the first ten minutes every cast member has been on stage and danced their socks off. This high stamina is maintained throughout.
The story takes place in the summer of 1963; Frances “Baby” Houseman is on holiday with her family at a camp. Baby doesn’t take much interest in the camp’s activities, until she stumbles across a late night staff dance party. While there she spots Johnny Castle, the resort dance instructor, and gets swept up in his world of rhythm, music and leading ladies.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 30 years since Dirty Dancing the movie graced our screens. Yet the story still remains timeless and unexpectedly gritty. Baby is played by the petite Roseanna Frascona, who on stage appears to be the spitting image of Jennifer Grey. Johnny Castle is played by Gareth Bailey, a phenomenal dancer with an outstanding physique. Patrick Swayze’s dancing shoes are big ones to fill, Bailey does so with ease and delivers the famous line that the entire audience has been waiting for, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”, to reactions of cheers and whoops!
Claire Rogers plays the troubled dance instructor Penny Johnson. Rogers has superb skill, posture and presence as well as enviably infinitely long legs. She is thrown across the stage by many male dancers, yet still manages to make it look like she’s gliding.
There is very little to disappoint within the two part dance epic. However, it has to be noted that it is exactly like watching the film all over again. There is nothing new to add, no new songs or plot lines. The actors are predominantly dancers; therefore, there is only a small amount of live singing with a band. Many of the songs are from a soundtrack and are used as a background to the action. Although the legendary (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life is sung live by two cast members – and that’s the one that matters.
It is possible to think that this musical is all about nostalgia, music and dancing, but you’d be mistaken. Everything leads up to “The Lift”. The same lift that every girl forced their older (or younger) sibling to try during trips to the swimming pool. The Lift is so iconic it is rightfully given pride of place at the finale. The Lift alone gets a standing ovation.
Dirty Dancing is a great show for the whole family. It whips you back to summer romances, classic songs and, most importantly, Baby’s big hair.
Runs until 28th March 2015