Dirty Dancing is brought to stage in this modern yet true musical adaptation of this much-loved 80S cult classic depicting a coming of age romance set to an award winning soundtrack and unforgettable dance scenes.
Like many girls, I grew up with Dirty Dancing continuously playing on loop on the VHS, driving my parents mad whilst my sister and I attempted to re-enact the famous ‘lift’ scene, often resulting in minor injuries. There was something so infectiously uplifting in the story and music that made it near enough impossible not to secretly long to be Baby, the teenage dancing novice who went on a family holiday only to re-emerge a woman with the skills of a professional dancer! So, armed with this girlhood nostalgia, I nervously anticipated the stage production as the curtain rose. To my delight, not only did Eleanor Bergstein’s Dirty Dancing The Musical pay homage to the film, but really brought it to life with a talented, convincing cast and exceptional set design.
A particular highlight were the dancing scenes in Act 1 featuring Baby and Johnny practising in the lake and forest which were sensationally brought to life with LED Walls and projections courtesy of lighting designer Tim Mitchell. It was this rather special lighting and set design that brought fluidity to the overall production, blending one scene seamlessly with the next as though the film had come alive on stage, much to the audiences delight.
Overall the cast were excellent, with Johnny and Baby providing a convincing performance with sizzling chemistry reminiscent of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. For me however, it was really Charlotte Gooch who played Penny who really managed to steal the show with breath-taking choreography and an incredible stage presence so in keeping with her on-screen character. There were a few added scenes that I felt weren’t entirely necessary, most notably a camp fire scene in Act 1 that attempted to half-wittingly bring in commentary on the civil rights movement that felt half-baked at best. However this didn’t dampen the overall spirit of the production as it came to its most famous line of ‘Nobody puts baby in the corner’ followed by the Grammy award winning ‘Time of my Life’ which had everybody up out their seats in what seemed like collective worship of a much cherished scene.
Not only did Dirty Dancing deliver a much wanted familiarity of a childhood favourite, but brought it to new heights of entertainment with fantastic choreography and a much enthused audience participation , cementing it as an absolute must-see for any fan!
Dirty Dancing The Musical is playing at Leeds Grand Theatre until the 23rd June, call the box office on 0844 848 2700 or visit the website to buy tickets.
Review by Lucy Hunt