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Dirty Dancing- musical review

Recently, my mum and I went to see Dirty Dancing, the musical. It’s touring, and came near us, so as a theatre fanatic, typically I asked to go. Now don’t hate me (please) but I hadn’t seen the film. Possibly branded one of the greatest films of all time, I probably should’ve seen the iconic works, yet I hadn’t before watching the show. Of course, everyone knows what it’s about though, that quote, the lift and those songs, right? So it really didn’t play too much of a part in the experience, and certainly didn’t make it a negative one- I really did have the time of my life.

The musical truly brought to life the classic 60s story, whereby Frances, ‘Baby’, and her family, are indulging on their family break, while she learns several life lessons, as well as a bit about dancing. Portrayed beautifully, we are able to follow her journey of self-discovery, and watch her break free from the somewhat closeted ideas that her parents try to inflict upon her future. As difficult as it may first seem, the newfound fiercely independent young woman in Baby, paired with her unexpected dance partner, Johnny Castle, triumph, when able to express their emotions on stage. Though worlds away at in the beginning, their connection goes from strength to strength, building a delightful relationship for us to follow.

Transported back to the summer of 1963, we become immersed in the activity at Kellerman’s resort. The chemistry between ‘Baby’, played by Kira Malou, and ‘Johnny’, played by Michael O'Reilly, is evident throughout, and it’s clear to see their passionate loving of each other to grow- their connection is magical and we can see the sparks fly. They perfectly capture the youthful, innocent presence of Baby, developing throughout the story, before blossoming into a confident young woman in the end. With the majority integrated seamlessly, the much loved soundtrack featuring 'Hungry Eyes' 'Hey Baby', 'She's Like The Wind', and of course '(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life' all feature in the spectacle, bringing to life the narrative from the screen. Though there is far more dancing than singing, the use of these songs makes it no less of a musical. We were all on the edge of our seats for that moment- the lift- and when it finally rolled around, it was met with a roar of cheers and that feeling of anticipation melting away into a beautiful sense of joy.

As you’d probably expect, due to the steamy activity, this show is more for a mature audience. Packed with raunchy scenes and sexual references, Dirty Dancing is pretty much as the name suggests. With ‘Johnny’ often lacking a shirt, wolf-whistles and screams are frequently accumulated from the primarily female audience. I mean, personally I feel like sometimes it was a bit extreme (he literally inhaled, and people got rather excited…) though generally I think they were deserved! Though recommended for 12+, unless your child is educated on some tricky topics, it may not be suitable until a bit older.

Various elements of humour are littered throughout the performance, with a particularly notable, and may I say ingenious, piece when we are transported to the lake so that the partners can practise that lift. Hair flicking and all, it was a rather amusing yet utterly brilliant portrayal of the scene. Lisa's hula dance may have also conjured up a few more giggles than expected too!

Undoubtedly, it was a sensational performance. Regarding the film, it feels unfair to closely liken the creations of two completely contrasting mediums, when they're both spectacular in their own way. It seems an honour to experience the story of Dirty Dancing in this way, with it being passed onto my generation beautifully, for us who were not around to see the original release of the phenomenon.

As a fantastic night out packed with entertainment, it's well worth the watch, and will leave you wishing you could dance!

Hannah x

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