“That was the summer of 1963 when everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn’t wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought that I’d never find a guy as great as my dad.” That first line of the iconic movie - Dirty Dancing, just sets me on edge every time. As a movie that was believed to be destined to be a flop, filmed with fraught tension between the leads, who would have expected 32 years later, it would have made such an impact, that the theatres have adapted the movie to the stage.
I am absolutely, a Dirty Dancing super fan, I will hear the strains of any of the songs from the soundtrack, and instantly be transported to the corresponding movie scene. If you feel that way too, the stage show will not disappoint. It was so thoroughly enjoyable for the live band to play the soundtrack the way that they did. Not necessarily all of the music was accompanied by singing, but the atmosphere was captured perfectly when any of the iconic musical intros to the music began at just the right times, for example She’s Like The Wind during the heart-breaking scene of Johnny Castle - played brilliantly by Michael O’Reilly, leaving Kellermans. It was a great idea to incorporate the musicians on to the stage, saxophonists and guitarists played along to the music in some scenes, such as the mambo ballroom dance, hosted by Colin Charles as Tito Suarez.
The rotating sets, perfectly illustrated the rustic, country club essence of Kellermans. There was greenery, buildings and plenty of fairy lights, that swiftly and neatly moved about to transform between Kellermans by day or by night. The creators of the set, really utilised the stage space by ensuring each piece of scenery, was multi-functioning, it helped the cast to quickly move from scene to scene. Prior to the show, I did wonder how exactly the famous lake scene would be depicted, because, you know the best place to practice lifts, is in the water. The cast and set makers did an unbelievable job of making this scene come to life, it really couldn’t have been reproduced any better than it was.
Kira Malou, as Baby, was a fantastic representation of the character that Jennifer Grey depicted in the movie. Malou was the perfect combination of the clumsy, endearing, annoying and naive Baby, that fans of the film have come to know and love. Malou suited the denim shorts and pigeon toed white pumps that our lead Baby is so well known for, nobody could carry a watermelon as well as she.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed Malou as our lead, the standout star of the show was the grumpy but gorgeous, Penny Johnson - Simone Covele. As we see in the film, Penny is the best dancer Kellermans has to offer, Covele surpassed the grace, strength, elegance and skills of the movie Penny, with absolutely phenomenal dancing that left me awestruck.
The supporting cast, were incredible, Lizzy Otley as the irritating but loveable Lisa Houseman, was both funny and curt, as strange as the Lisa we know from the movie. Nice guy, Billy - Alex Wheeler, and the rest of the cast, truly represented all of the characters to a tee, each part played a huge role in setting all of the scenes, and building the story.
Experiencing the stage show, was just like being in the movie, it could not be improved upon in any way, especially the scenes when we come to find out, that nobody puts Baby in a corner.
Reviewer: Amy Swag
Reviewed: 7th May 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★★★