7-12 November 2016
Reviewed by Catherine Brown
Fans of ‘Dirty Dancing’ will be excited to hear that the musical production ‘Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage’, based on the iconic 1987 film, is currently playing at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. I attended the first night performance and was curious to see how it compared to one of my all-time favourite films.
The romantic story is set in 1963 and centres around Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman during her family holiday at Kellerman’s resort. Baby soon becomes attracted to dance instructor Johnny Castle (Lewis Griffiths), and volunteers to replace his usual partner Penny at a performance at a neighbouring resort. This requires Johnny to give Baby his undivided attention in order teach her the steps and the couple gradually fall in love.
However, Baby (Katie Hartland) is a naïve teenager who believes she can change the world, while Johnny’s mesmerising moves and lothario reputation make him exactly the type of man her father warns her to stay away from. The story develops with plenty of ‘will they, won’t they?’ and debates about fighting hard for what you believe in.
Eleanor Bergstein is the writer and creator who also wrote the original story; her stage version stays fairly true to the film script and contains all the classic lines including ‘I carried a watermelon’ and ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’. Producer Karl Sydow has been involved with both previous UK tours and the West End production. The music and choreography combine to create a high-energy performance, my favourite songs being ‘Hungry Eyes’ and ‘Yes!’
The only thing that slightly spoiled the show for me was the audience! There were lines which die-hard fans were expecting, that got shouted out before the actors got chance to say them. This was often followed by giggles from the audience and the cast members then had to wait for quiet before they could continue. I felt this interrupted the flow and the atmosphere, but the actors dealt with it very well.
Another niggle I had was how often the stage hands were seen manipulating the scenery. The staging was brilliant with a revolving staircase helping to show the change from inside to out. However, on numerous occasions the back-stage staff could be seen moving this into place. They did deal brilliantly however with the scene in the lake where Baby and Johnny are practising lifts with clever use of visual effects.
The Regent Theatre has an art deco style and is located in the Hanley area of the city. There are plenty of public car parks nearby and signs directing you to the theatre. The staff were friendly and helpful and the facilities clean.
I found myself tapping my toes to this ‘feel good’ performance which encourages you to believe that dance really can bring everyone together. The show has ingredients which appeal to all ages; energy charged dancing, catchy tunes and a love story which is every young girls dream. If you enjoyed the film or even if you are new to ‘Dirty Dancing’ this is a show worth watching.
Tickets cost from £15.40 to £64.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Dirty Dancing is at the Regent Theatre in Stoke until 12 November 2016. For more infromation or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7649.
Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP | 0844 871 7649