Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Choreographer: Kate Champion
Director: Sarah Tipple
Reviewer: Emma Hewitt
The Public Reviews Rating:
Set in early 1960′s America, Dirty Dancing is a coming of age story of first loves and loss of innocence. Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is a young woman from a privileged family who plans to join the peace core until she meets Johnny Castle whilst on holiday with her parents. A down on his luck dance instructor, Johnny teaches Baby not just about the Mambo and the Cha Cha but also about how exciting and hard real life can be.
Paul-Michael Jones is very good in the role of Johnny Castle, he definitley has the dancing to perfection and had the ladies swooning in the audience. Jill Winternitz gives a strong performance as Baby, however a distinct lack of chemistry between Jones and Winternitz meant that the relationship which should have been hot, seductive and steamy ends up as just a little luke warm without any fizz.
Nicky Griffiths who plays Penny Johnston showed incredible dancing and became the lady to watch as she was captivating on the stage. Also deserving particular note were Emilia Williams who gave a memorable performance as Lisa Houseman, her rendition of Lisa’s Hula drawing a lot of laughter and a round of applause from the audience, and Stefan Menual who did an excellent job as Neil Kellerman the lecherous nephew of the resorts owner.
The choreography by Kate Champion is breathtaking, and really makes the show truly special bringing the story to life. That said it became evident from the start that the casting had been based more on the strength of dancing than acting, something which means the show is let down from all involved.
Stephen Brimson Lewis’ set design was very impressive. A clever use of projection proved a very effective way of creating a myriad of different scenarios with a minimum of fuss and a simple but well thought out approach to moving parts kept everything flowing smoothly in a show that seemed to change scene as often as the tracks on a Jukebox.
The iconic soundtrack was brought to life by the fantastic use of the orchestra which were present on stage throughout the whole show. The moment I’ve Had The Time Of My Life begun the audience went wild with cheering and some even onto their feet for the final moment, the one we had all been waiting for…The lift.
The night ended with a standing ovation which ultimately says it all. From the stunning dancing to the music to the lines we all wanted to hear “Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner” and “ I Carried A Watermelon”. Fans of the film will love it and people who have never seen it will be swept away in the moment.
Runs until 27th October.
Dirty Dancing- The Empire Theatre, Liverpool,