A new tour of the UK hit show Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage has launched at The Bristol Hippodrome. Since opening in September 2011, the first UK tour has wowed audiences, taking an unprecedented £42,000,000 at theatres across the country.
Written by Eleanor Bergstein, script writer and co-producer of the 1987 film, the production features the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic film. The dance sequences and new choreography are set to hits from the soundtrack, including ‘Do You Love Me?’, ‘Hungry Eyes’ and the Academy Award Winning ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’.
STORY IN BRIEF
It’s 1963 and the Houseman family has been invited to take a family holiday at the exclusive Kellerman’s holiday camp. The youngest daughter, nicknamed ‘Baby’ is a Daddy’s girl who up until this point has been able to tell her father anything. During the holiday Baby stumbles across feverish dancing behind closed doors in the staff quarters and is soon drawn into this parallel world. She begins to learn how the other side lives, discovers a passion for dancing and of course, she meets a boy.
Gareth Bailey usually stars as Johnny Castle although in the performance we saw, Lewis Kirk stepped very comfortably into this role and a physical similarity coupled with great acting skills makes it easy to accept Roseanna Frascona as the idealistic Baby Houseman
Just when I thought I must be getting familiar with the main ways a set might look, along comes Dirty Dancing and proves me completely wrong! The backdrop is made up of what appears to be a giant, multi panelled projector screen surrounding the stage area. Different scenes are shown in turn on the screen conveying the audience smoothly from a lake scene at an exclusive holiday camp to basic staff quarters; from a summer’s evening outside to a rainstorm in the forest; from a stiff formal dinner dance to a raunchy private dance hall.
Iconic scenes in the film are recreated using these screens, sometimes realisticallyand other times quite comically. I’m not sure I can describe why practicing the lift in the lake is so funny. Perhaps it’s to do with the way Baby shakes her hair out each time they fall, to pretend it’s soaking wet. Perhaps part of the humour is recalled from the film. But it’s good fun and the performers are clearly showing their own amusement too.These screens bring this theatre show closer to the feel of the film as does the clever use of a revolving floor section which offers scope for plenty of movement across the stage, allowing Baby to go for a walk (whilst staying on the spot!), as well as giving the impression of a camera zooming in or out as characters are moved towards or away from the audience.A stage within a stage leaves allows us to watch a holiday camp show alongside the performers, drawing us into their world and the orchestra holds an interesting position above this mini stage.
As you’d expect there’s some amazing dancing. The females are frequently thrown about like rag dolls by their male partners, with their heads coming oh so close to the floor. I feel sure there must have been some near misses during rehearsals!
Claire Rogers who plays Penny Johnson makes me wish I had even a tiny modicum of dance talent. Her dancing is a joy to watch
and she easily turns on the sex appeal required for Dirty Dancing. Her
elegant legs, long blonde hair and classical ballet training all combine to demand attention when she’s on stage.
By chance I decided not to take any children to this show and I’m quite glad that I didn’t. Johnny and Baby’s love scene is fairly raunchy and central to the story line is a botched abortion. I also wouldn’t relish rehashing the conversation with my 10 and 8 year olds when Baby asks Johnny
“Have you had many women?”I’ll probably give it a year or two before I take my ten year old to see this. Age 12 or 13 sounds about right for my boys.
WOULD WE GO BACK?
There’s plenty of audience participation. I watched the show with my husband so I can’t possibly comment on why the amount of wolf whistles for Johnny seem inversely proportional to the amount of clothes he was wearing! And of course there’s heated whooping and cheering as Johnny comes through the audience to deliver the famous line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”.This is a coming of age story which surely owes much of it’s enduring popularity to the difficult issues it tackles, such as class, family, loyalty and right and wrong. In it’s simplest form though, it is just a great, feel good, love story, with a corny romantic happy ending – all set to a fabulous soundtrack.Before I’d even left the theatre I knew I wanted to watch Dirty Dancing again. I enjoyed every minute. Superb entertainment!
Saturday 15th March – Saturday 5th April
Mon – Thu @ 7.30 pm
Fri @ 5.00 pm & 8.30 pm
Sat 15 March @ 7.30 pm, thereafter Sat perfs @ 2.30 pm & 7.30 pm
Tickets: £10.00 – £79.90
The Dirty Dancing tour launches at The Bristol Hippodrome on 15 March 2014, and will then visit Sheffield, Newcastle, Southampton, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Wolverhampton, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Oxford, Eastbourne, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool.