Returning to the West End once more, the epitome of iconic productions is back, with Dirty Dancing: an ultimate classic through the generations. For the summer at Kellerman's Resort of your dreams, get yourself to the Dominion, and don't be afraid to take a few lessons before your first merengue.
To be unfamiliar with the story is a rarity, but for those who are, the plot takes audiences on vacation with the Houseman family, as they spend a few weeks away from reality. From golf, to dance contests, to beauty pageants, there is something for every guest there to become immersed in, and the resort staff abide by their own dynamic culture too, where everyone knows how to move on the floor, and popularity is determined by the flirtatious happenings at any given opportunity.
Well-accomplished in their roles, Kira Malou and Michael O'Reilly remain as the leads after several years in the show- playing Francis 'Baby' Houseman, and Johnny Castle respectively- with their unassailable chemistry bringing passion to those beloved scenes taken from the film. The portrayal of Baby's innocence yet desire to change the world for the better, to transformation into a lover and dancer (of equal importance), is charmingly conveyed. Similarly, Johnny's conceited swagger and way with the ladies, contrasted with his softer side are characteristics that have been perfected with this casting.
As Penny Johnson, an exquisite dancer partnering Johnny through many competitions together, Charlotte Gooch is unstoppable with her talents, displaying a masterclass of elegance and professionalism with the stunning choreography given by Austin Wilks. Various complex sequences are performed throughout with the company in addition, that really are the feature point of the show.
Jennifer Irwin has crafted some beautiful 1960s summer dresses as the costume designer, with the simplicity of the famous pink number for the scene we all came for, still being perfect for the job. The set, however, seems almost too basic for a full transformation away from the stage presence and into the world of Baby and Johnny: for example, the door to their accommodation, or, despite its hilarity, the water moment is certainly not very realistic!
Being such a quintessential franchise, there's little doubt that the most familiar lines were lapped up by the audience, who were totally electric with the atmosphere. There's always a risk when recreating a movie that has been seen by so many, though the depiction that this show gives remains true to the original, and uses the excellent soundtrack to enhance this, with the live band, and Danny Colligan (as Billy Kostecki) and Lydia Sterling (as Elizabeth) with some strong vocals. Colin Charles (as Tito Suarez) brings infectious enthusiasm in his act too, while Georgina Castle becomes Lisa Houseman, and executes the purposely questionable 'Lisa's Hula' in style.
With more hits including 'Hungry Eyes', 'Overload', 'Hey Baby', 'Yes', and 'She's Like The Wind'- to name just a few- and not forgetting '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life', the production, written by Eleanor Bergstein, has plenty of great music to enjoy, despite not actually being a musical.
If you're looking for a fun night out to see something for the icon factor, rather than a totally magical show, this might me one for you- that lift will give you goosebumps though. With plenty of opportunity to see this one, either in London or on tour, you really will have the time of your life. Say yes to buying your ticket now!
You can also give my interview with the wonderful Danny Colligan from the cast here: