It’s been 10 years since Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story Live On Stage opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre, taking an advance of £15 million in ticket sales and becoming the fastest ever selling show in West End theatre history. A decade on a packed out Palace Theatre proves the show is still as popular as ever as it stops in Manchester as part of its UK tour.
Based almost word for word (bar a few additional scenes) on the hit 80s movie starring the late great Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles it’s a real treat for any fans of the film and even those who have never seen it before.
Dirty Dancing tells the story of 17 year- old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman who learns a lot more than ‘dancing’ when she stays at Kellerman’s holiday camp with her family in summer of 1963. Baby is heading for the Peace Corps and wants to make the world a better place but, as she stumbles across a secret sexy dance off at the camps staff quarters, her life turns upside down. Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and resident dancer Johnny Castle, Baby soon has the time of her life mamboing her way into becoming a woman.
Packed with energy from start to finish the record-breaking show has been reconceived in this all new production by an innovative creative team. Federico Bellone’s direction is slick, the scene changes are tight and in the words of Simon Cowell Bellone has definitely ‘made it his own’.
Leading the way is Lewis Griffith as dance instructor Johnny Castle. No stranger to the stage having starred in hit musicals such as Legally Blonde, Jersey Boys and Ghost, Griffith oozes sex appeal from every pore. He sizzles onto the dancefloor with sensational hip action and thrusts which will make you blush.
Making her professional musical theatre debut as Baby is the delightful Katie Hartland who, unlike others who have played the role before, steers clear of delivering a carbon copy of Jennifer Gray’s portrayal of the character. Hartland delivers every line with a fresh quality and creates some really sweet comic moments as she struggles to master the dance moves. Someone who has no issues with her footwork though is Carlie Milner as Johnny’s dance partner Penny. With a set of pins that makes everyone go green with envy Milner shows off her physical prowess and is perfectly cast as the former Rockette who gets ‘knocked up’ by love rat waiter Robbie.
Special mentions must go to Julian Harries and Simone Craddock who play Baby’s parents – roles which are well developed more for the stage than the original film. Daniela Pobega also excels as part of the ensemble belting out Dirty Dancing’s iconic tunes Yes and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.
The production will leave you wowed by Gillian Bruce’s brilliant choreography and the shows’ impressive set, designed by Roberto Comotti, which expertly revolves to reveal a number of different locations from the Kellermans to the Sheldrake and back again.
With an incredible finale that brings a magical movie moment to life and the electric excitement from the audience as Johnny utters the immortal line ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’, Dirty Dancing on stage will not fail to put a smile on your face and set your heart racing.
This is one production I’d definitely carry more than a watermelon to go see again and again!
Dirty Dancing – Palace Theatre, Manchester
Mon 10 – Sat 15 October 2016