The iconic Dirty Dancing has arrived on the London stage, for only thirty performances, in the middle of its U.K. Tour. This production, directed by Federico Bellone, faithfully recreates the movie for a live audience.
The classic story sees straight-laced ‘Baby’ Houseman strike up a relationship with dancer and wild man ‘Johnny Castle’, whilst on vacation at Kellerman’s Camp in the summer of 1963. The resort staff regularly hold late night dance parties and unbeknown to her family, the shy and awkward ‘Baby’ is drawn in to this new world.
Katy Hartland, as ‘Baby’ captures the character skilfully and works well with Lewis Griffiths, as ‘Johnny Castle’. There is no doubt about Griffiths dance skills which are showcased beautifully, both with Hartland and Carlie Milner who plays ‘Penny’.While the soundtrack has become as famous as the movie, it felt a little underutilised for the stage version. Not all of the tracks are sung live but the ones that are, are fantastic, and that’s almost entirely down to Michael Kent, as Billy, and Gabby Antrobus , who had stepped in to the role of ‘Elizabeth’. Both of them gave exhilarating performances that delighted the audience.
The first act ticks along nicely, but can feel like something is missing. The second act really picks up the pace, and by the time we reach the finale the audience is whipped up to a suitable frenzy. It’s easy to forget this is a staged version, especially when they manage to recreate scenes such as the famous ‘Lift in the Lake’, which the audience noticeably appreciated.
Dirty Dancing is a marvellously fun night out, with something that will appeal to everyone, and while it would be impossible to recreate the magic of the movie, this production comes startlingly close.