30 April to 23 May 2015
Reviewed by Jane Hopkins MBE
I’ve just spent a superb evening at the Birmingham Hippodrome to see the Dirty Dancing Tour, and wow! Just wow! Sat in a lovely, comfy theatre we were treated to a marvellous performance and a wonderful tip of the hat to the memory of Patrick Swayze.
It’s always amazed me how they can rewrite a film that will work on a stage, and for such an iconic film too, I imagine it wasn’t an easy job to do. But the set designers have achieved greatness here; the quick and seamless set changes take you from an open-air scene to a dance hall in just a second or two. It worked incredibly well.
Both the plot and distinctive soundtrack mirrors that of the 1987 film which tells the story of a teenage girl falling in love with a dance instructor who works at the holiday resort her family is staying at. The soundtrack, which was both original recordings and live singing, was lively and fun; the vocal performances from Colin Charles, Matthew Colthart and Natalie Windsor were a joy.
Dancing was skilful, energetic and smooth, ‘Penny’ played by Claire Rogers was superbly cast, one of the best dancers I’ve ever seen live. Jessie Hart who made her debut here in Birmingham, played the lead ‘Baby’ and portrayed the transition from naïve and clumsy to accomplished with ease, and we all held our breath ahead of the infamous lift scene at the end, which backed up with the music will absolutely give you goosebumps.
Johnny, played by Lewis Clark, well what can I say… Along with everyone else in the theatre, I have no idea what he said when the shirt came off, and how he kept a straight face with the whistles from the audience I don’t know. I’m pleased that he wasn’t cast as a Patrick Swayze lookalike but his dancing was beyond talented and he is an equal match to the star from the film we all know and love.
There’s humour too; Mark Faith playing Mr Schumacher had the audience giggling with his appearances, the boss’s son Neil Kellerman played by Kane Verrall made us cringe somewhat at his attempts to woo Baby and the Hula number during the talent show was made hugely entertaining from actress Georgina Castle.
The audience were riveted from the beginning to the end, with animated whoops and singing along throughout. But there are also silent moments from the audience where even though we know what’s coming, we’re waiting with baited breath. I could go on but I don’t want to ruin the show for you. I absolutely recommend it.
An awesome performance, culminating in a high-energy finale making the audience wanting to cry with emotion. Fantastic.
Tickets cost from £20 to £59.50 (booking fees may apply).
Dirty Dancing is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until 23 May 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 338 5000.
Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB | 0844 338 5000