Touring – reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking ★★★★★
Dirty Dancing is not just a show about a love affair against the odds, or an early 60s period piece. Its continued popularity over the past 31 years is just as much due to tackling issues of class, family, loyalty, and right and wrong head on. It’s a coming-of-age story par excellence, acknowledged in Johnny’s introduction of Baby to everyone at Kellerman’s on the last night of the season.
So, if you are in the minority of people who haven’t actually seen the iconic film all those years ago: It’s the summer of 1963 and 17 year old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing. On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents she shows little interest in the resort activities and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters.
Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves (and there are those aplenty in this stage production too), Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor. Her life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off; as two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.
Whether you know the story or not, this wonderful production, written by Eleanor Bergstein and directed by Federico Bellone, will captivate you from start to finish. Many favourite original masters feature within this stage sensation which blends the movie soundtrack seamlessly with this live performance.
The quality of the dancing is phenomenal, with enigmatic dance numbers and sensual moments throughout. The scenery and special effects, especially the campfire and water scenes, were beautifully crafted. The audience were used at one point as part of ‘Kellerman’s’ entertainment as the scenes were seamlessly changed.
This production gets a five star review from me – a night to remember – and remember “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”