Review: Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage

Catskill Mountains arrived at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens for an evening of music, sparkle and high lifts, writes Stephanie Cottle

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Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage had its premiere at Blackpool Opera House on 11 Augus and the Winter Gardens was awash with sparkle, glamour and, of course, pink. The sell-out show had pulled together an excited crowd ready for an evening immersed in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Written for the stage by Eleanor Bergstein, the story follows a group of young coming-of-age adults through the summer of 1963 – and the piece is brought to life by the bestselling Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

Having seen the film, I was interested to see how the stage version stood up on its own merit, but attending the show with my partner (who has never seen the film) it was apparent that in parts the script was lacking. I often had to clarify characters’ names and my partner questioned the plot throughout the performance. It did feel as though the show was in some parts relying heavily on its film counterpart.

The set, designed by Andrea Comotti, managed to provide a fluid and effective change in scenery while not losing any of the beautiful intricate detail. The background of the stage switched effortlessly and the actors seemed unburdened by the movement between each scene’s location. Unfortunately this appears not to have been the case in each performance, as the following evening “technical issues” delayed the show.

The performance lived up to its name and the cast gave stunning renditions of the famous raunchy dance routines.

Usually frequenting more gothic, darker pieces of theatre, I was surprised to find myself letting out giggles. Throughout the evening I allowed the story of Baby’s sexual awakening to melt away some of the cynicism I held pre-show. The most well known moments of the film were captured perfectly, and the audience cheered heartily when Lewis Griffiths (Johnny) and Katie Hartland (Baby) performed the celebrated lift. The chemistry between the pair reached its intense peak at the delight of those in the audience. Although the production was not without its flaws, the outstanding performance from all members of the cast was fun, energetic and seductive.

Dirty Dancing is at Blackpool Opera House until 30 August

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