Thursday, 7 September 2017

REVIEW: Dirty Dancing at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner”

It’s been 30 years since the film Dirty Dancing hit screens for the first time, and since then it has become nothing short of iconic. Whether you think of watermelons, dancing on a bridge or being lifted high into the air in a lake, Dirty Dancing is a classic and is much loved by audiences of all ages.

Seen by millions across the globe this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.

This UK Tour is filled to the brim with electrifying energy and fantastic routines throughout.

The main thing I’d like to address with this show is that it is almost a direct stage adaptation of the movie. Earlier this year, I heavily criticised Grease: The Musical saying “In a show like Grease which is preceded by such a cult classic film, a stage adaptation is never going to please everyone… it will either be too similar to the classic film or not pay enough of an homage.” Grease was disappointing to say the least. The difference with Dirty Dancing is that the execution is much better and more committed in its decision to mirror the film. It embraces the cheese-factor and doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet is simultaneously clean-cut, sleek and packed full of crowd-pleasing moments. Highlights include the wonderfully light-hearted scene where Johnny and Baby practice “the lift” for the first time in the lake; the audience giggled along at its charm. 

Lewis Griffiths is a sensational Johnny - wow, can that man move! Opposite Katie Eccles as Baby, the pair have a beautiful chemistry and lead this production superbly. Eccles brought just the right level of naivety to Baby allowing her to blossom into the swan she eventually becomes by the end of Act II. Carlie Milner was absolutely outstanding as Johnny’s original dance partner, Penny. Emotionally, I was (of course) rooting for Johnny and Baby, but I could have watched Milner dance with Griffiths all evening. 

Whilst the set pieces were magnificent, there was barely a moment of stillness -
it felt like they were moving constantly. Paired with a wobbling staircase which made me nervous any time a cast member stepped on it, I have to dock points for that. 

The New Victoria Theatre was packed to the brim with Girls-Night-Out groups so the atmosphere was very giggly and at times rather loud! The show is great entertainment but is definitely aimed at a certain crowd. Call your best gal pals and pay Dirty Dancing a visit - maybe you’ll have The Time of (your) Life. 

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★
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