REVIEW: Dirty Dancing at Liverpool Empire 11/10/12

The stage production of the classic 1980s film Dirty Dancing is on tour around the UK for the first time. Promising heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensationally sexy dancing the show hit Liverpool Empire in style and our reviewer Leah Jones was there.

With our pink VIP passes in hand, we found ourselves surrounded by high heels, glam outfits and high expectations. The predominantly female audience, wanted to see their beloved Dirty Dancing come to life on stage, and they were not disappointed.

This production delivered exactly what it said on the tin. The narrative matched the film perfectly and the cast and orchestra were fantastically well polished. The sophisticated orchestra combined with the familiar ‘cheesy’ story line somehow worked very well. Although the set design appeared quite minimalist at first, this didn’t disappoint either with a moving floor, chandeliers dropping from the ceiling and some very smooth set changes.

Jill Winternitz and Paul-Michael Jones (Baby and Johnny) played their parts excellently and were clearly chosen not just for their talents but their close resemblance to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. With his black leather jacket, sunglasses and tough attitude the crowd swooned and then erupted in laughter and cheer when Johnny stormed through the stall doors, down the aisles and jumped on to the stage to deliver the most famous line “no one puts Baby in the corner”.

As far the dancing was concerned, the cast performed some incredible routines. Nicky Griffiths (Penny) definitely stood out for me and I know I won’t be the only audience member desperate to find Kellerman’s style dance lessons at a venue near me!

The audience sang and danced along throughout and, in true scouse style, even contributed to the performance with lines such as “Go girl!” during one of Baby and Johnny’s romantic rendezvous. Although this may not confirm to traditional theatre etiquette it was more than suitable on Thursday evening; the grins that creeped across performers’ faces proved how welcome these moments of audience excitement were. By the end of the night groups of women were up dancing, singing along and wolf whistling.

If you hated the film then I strongly suggest you give this one a miss. If you loved the film then tickets for the stage production are a must. It’s no surprise this is the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre, London. For the audience on Thursday this delivered exactly what they’d hoped for. In fact, the night ended with a standing ovation.

Dirty Dancing runs until Sat 27th October 2012

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