Dirty Dancing the musical, currently playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London, is based on the classic film originally released in 1987. Set in 1963, it’s the coming-of-age tale of the young and innocent ‘Baby’ Houseman, who finds love (and lust) for the hotel dance instructor Johnny Castle.
Originally, Dirty Dancing was such a low budget film that was intended to go straight to video after a short stint at the cinema, but proved so popular that it became a smash success and is still doing well today. In the years that followed, the film spawned a workout video, a muppets spoof, a video game and even a modern retelling in another outing to the big screen under the name ‘Havana nights’. With the film alone getting over 10 million ‘likes’ on Facebook and a large follow worldwide, it only made sense that the story would make its way to the stage.
With the re-imagining for stage, the production team have attempted to recreate the Dirty Dancing magic in the theatre. Some might think it would be impossible to top the acting quality, dancing and general performance of the original film, but the stage re-imaging adds an exciting new element – live performance. Live dancing has a completely different effect on the theatre audience and is enough to whisk you away and wrap you up in the story.
The release of the stage version of Dirty Dancing so was eagerly anticipated that it sold out 6 months in advance before even opening in London – breaking records for the highest advance ticket sales ever. This record was similarly smashed in Europe by the Germans.
Although based on the original film, the stage production is made up of around 40% new material - with 25 new songs and a similar number of scenes. So even if you have seen Dirty Dancing on the big (or small) screen, it’s well worth catching it on stage as well, fans will not be disappointed and those that haven’t seen it will still have a thoroughly enjoyable night.
Of course, you won’t see Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey gracing the stage, but Johnny Wright and Hannah Vassallo take over their parts with gusto. In fact, the entire cast are thoroughly professional and add their own individual touch to the performance. Even with the execution of the famous climactic lift – you can easily forget that they repeat the same performance time and time again. It’s easy to get lost in the story and wrapped up in the romance of it all.
As you’d expect, all the famous Dirty Dancing lines make an appearance and the audience almost screamed when Johnny snatched Baby away from her parents with the much quoted line – ‘nobody puts baby in the corner’ to take on the final dance. Johnny and Baby ooze sex appeal and the theatre production is just as sexually charged as the original cinematic version, which is why they’ve given it a PG rating.
Seeing Dirty Dancing performing so well in the West End, decades after its original inception, is a testament to the heart-warming story and skill and dedication of the cast and crew.
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Published: 21/06/2011 15:13:13