Dirty Dancing was a box office smash hit film in 1987, the soundtrack generated two albums and a clutch of singles and it made a star of the hitherto unknown Patrick Swayze.
And then came the show: Dirty Dancing translates easily to the stage - unlike many other films I’ve seen which have been lost in the transition with unmemorable songs and trite dialogue.
The simple storyline of a young girl shrugging off the shackles of her childhood and falling for a handsome dance instructor are easy to relate to. There are ready-made catchy songs, some superb dancing and a pair of leading actors who have a real connection to each other with plenty of on-stage chemistry.
Gareth Bailey as the swaggering Johnny Castle may not be Patrick Swayze but he’s a fine substitute with his dark, smouldering good looks, toned torso and superb dancing. Roseanna Frascona is a complete natural as 17-year-old Baby, the naive, innocent and unworldly young doctor’s daughter who emerges from of her shell and finally comes of age under the tutelage of Johnny.
The largely female audience at the sell-out show at the Grand Theatre clapped and sang along to the hit songs and whooped and hollered especially when the moves got steamy and Johnny took his shirt off.
Humour is provided courtesy of Jessie-Lou Yates as Baby’s sister Lisa and by Alexander Wolfe as Neil Kellerman, grandson of the owner of the Butlin’s-style holiday camp in which the action takes place in the summer of ‘63.
It’s an undemanding show that asks nothing of the audience other than they sit back and enjoy themselves; it doesn’t moralise, preach or try to change opinion, in short, it’s a feel-good show that is just the thing to liven up a dull winter’s evening.
It’s worth going to see just for the dancing. Leggy beauty Claire Rogers as Penny is simply superb and her scenes with Johnny were some of the highlights of the night for me.
Until Saturday December 6
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