Dirty Dancing - Musical ☆☆☆3
Showing from - Thursday, August 11, 2016 through till Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Blackpool Opera House - Blackpool
Sandra Mangan | Thursday, August 11, 2016
As the capacity audience filed out of the theatre after this premiere of the Dirty Dancing UK tour, I was under no illusions. They’d had The Time of Their Lives. So why was I feeling so deflated?
As I write this, the day after the show, I’m still flummoxed. The sexiness is laid on with a heavy hand and at times borders on the gratuitousDirty Dancing has a talented cast, plenty of dancing, some singing and a pretty amazing set. It just doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor for me and throws up more questions than answers.
Is this a musical? Although the show’s programme lists two full pages of songs and music in truth, there’s precious little live singing here. Which is a shame, because leading man Lewis Griffiths stole the show in Jersey Boys, so I hear. In Dirty Dancing he acts and dances but never has a chance to show off those superior vocal skills (showing off his body is another matter, but we will come to that later). The main singing duties went to Michael Kent as Billy Kostecki, who knocked it out of the park with his renditions of In The Still of the Night and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life. Pity he didn’t get more chance to exercise those vocal cords.
Relative newcomer Katie Hartland is a cute Baby who exuded confidence in the role, while Carlie Milner’s slinky Penny showed off dancing skills worthy of the Strictly finals. There are many fine cameo roles in a cast of 20-plus but the numbers worked best when they were in ensemble.
The majority of the first night audience were obvious Dirty Dancing aficionados and knew exactly what was coming next – because in truth, this stage show stays as close as possible to the hugely popular film. This leads to a somewhat choppy, almost tableau style delivery and a few strange moments – such as the famous 'lift in the lake' scene which is nigh-on impossible to recreate on a stage and led to some muted sniggers around the auditorium.
The fast pace of the scenes was hindered somewhat by a set malfunction which meant that the quick-change spinning scenery had to be manhandled into place.
This version is more raunchy than the film. Patrick Swayze was sexy without even trying; here the sexiness is laid on with a heavy hand and at times borders on the gratuitous. Seeing Johnny's bare bum certainly made the night for a large proportion of the female audience (who also cheered every time he bared his chest) but I'm afraid I wasn't among them.
If you're a fan of the movie, then you're likely to love this stage version of Dirty Dancing. The cast received a huge roar of approval at the end of the show and all around me I could hear the happy chatter of satisfied customers.
Sometimes, the life of a theatre reviewer can be a lonely one!
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