Dirty Dancing performed at The Theatre Royal Nottingham on Thursday 28th May 2015.


Review by Sandra Cooper

At the Theatre Royal on Thursday night, every seat was taken in anticipation of the classic story of Dirty Dancing, and it lived up to everyone’s expectation.

The original 1987 film, one of the most successful independent movies of all time, propelled the late Patrick Swayze to international megastar status, and this cast did it proud. Set at the height of the American civil rights movement in 1963, this is a classic love conquers all tale.

For those unfamiliar with the film, and there must only be a few out there, it is set at Kellermans, an upmarket vacation resort. Doctor Houseman, his wife and two daughters, Frances ‘Baby’ and Lisa visit the resort for their annual family holiday.

As the story progresses, the innocent Baby falls in love with one of the dancers employed to keep the guests happy and amused. The audience is enraptured as they too fall in love with Johnny Castle and the vulnerable Baby, played with gusto by Jessie Hart. Lewis Kirk, as Johnny is outstanding and his dance moves are simply mesmerising.

Dirty Dancing is a show built upon impeccable choreography and Kate Champion’s work shines through in a myriad of technique and styles. A highlight was the mambo danced between Kirk and Claire Rogers who played Penny Johnson which was the equal of any performance by the professionals on Strictly Come Dancing. Rogers made a striking impact; a trained ballerina with legs up to her chin, she was both elegant and sassy.

Director Sarah Tipple and her team do deserve credit for finding ways to distinguish the show from the movie, and the use of live music is one of them. The show has an eight member orchestra which were on show throughout, and the young and energetic cast sashayed away to numbers like Big Boys Don’t Cry, Be My Baby and Hungry Eyes.

The staging and design were also first class, with the use of visuals, a rotating centre stage and LED screens adding an extra dimension to the show. The recreation of the film’s famous sea sequence added humour and worked perfectly.

But as with the film, we had to wait until the end for that famous number; (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, and as Johnny lifted Baby high into the air, this audience erupted and were on their feet to show their appreciation. It was truly a great theatre moment.

In the movie Swayze oozed sex appeal, but on stage Kirk was a magnificent beast, with a fine body and brilliant dance moves. Making it look very easy, this was a night of dirty but very dazzling dancing.