Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Dirty Dancing is the famous 1987 film that propelled Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze to stardom. The hit film is now established as a successful stage show and we went to see the opening night at the fabulous Blackpool Opera House where it is showing until September 2nd.
Located in the centre of Blackpool, the theatre is easy to find with ample parking nearby. We paid £3.00 to park on a car park that was only a few minutes walk away from the theatre.
Spending the summer of 1963 at a Catskills resort with her family, innocent Frances “Baby” Houseman played by Katie Eccles falls in love with the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle played by Lewis Griffiths. In a classic “coming of age” tale Baby soon learns more than just dancing!! It has been a while since I’ve seen the film but the story was pretty much intact with all the major themes still in place and the fantastic soundtrack from the original film.
Looking very similar to Jennifer Gray, Katie Eccles was perfectly cast as Baby and the ladies in the audience certainly appreciated the casting of Lewis Griffiths as Johnny with plenty of whoops, whistles and cheering whenever he took to the stage.
It’s difficult to dance without music and the show features over 40 classic tracks perfectly setting the 60’s feel, with a mix of original recordings and some performed live by the cast. In particular cast member Michael Kent deserves a mention for his brilliant singing voice.
The show also included plenty of humour, my husband liked Baby’s first awkward dance steps and we will all remember the hilarious performance by Baby’s sister Lisa (Lizzie Ottley) in the end of season show.
The set was superb, it is quite common these days to have a central mobile piece that can be rotated depending upon the scene giving the choice of two or three locations. This technique was used with great effect but this performance also made full use of the stage with projection, lighting and special effects. Notably, the famous scene from the lake where Baby and Johnny practice their lift was re-created, all without the actors getting wet!
With so much music and fantastic dancing throughout, the night flew by and with the famous line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” Griffiths returned to the stage for the finale – a great dance number with the whole cast on stage dancing to (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life; the audience took to their feet and showed just how much they had enjoyed the show.
The musical does has an age restriction of 12 and we would probably agree that this is about right, whilst (almost) nothing is seen there are a few scenes that are unsuitable for younger children.
I have seen many shows and this is up there with the best! It is a fantastic show and would be a great for a girlie night out.
Tickets cost from £20 to £49.50 (booking fees may apply).
Dirty Dancing is at the Blackpool Opera House from 29 August to 2 September 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL