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Dirty Dancing, New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

THAT final lift nearly brought the house down! The theatre was filled, it seemed, with die-hard Dirty Dancing fans and they got exactly what they came for. This production is a stage adaption of the classic 1987 movie and does not stray too far from the film.

In fact, it is essentially the movie re-enacted on stage with as many of the same scenes as feasibly possible, the same music, even down to almost exact replication of all Baby’s outfits. But why not? Dirty Dancing is an iconic film loved by millions worldwide.

Who hasn’t seen Dirty Dancing? The big screen romance that gave geeky, teenage girls everywhere hope that they could bag the cool guy. For the uninitiated, the story is set in the golden summer of 1963 in America at a time of prosperity and optimism and before the JFK shooting

Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and her family are enjoying a holiday in a hotel resort in the Catskill Mountains when she is pulled from her sheltered, comfortable world into that of the working class dancers who entertain the rich guests. When lead dancer Penny Johnson has to miss an important routine after a near-tragic event Baby steps to help her hunky partner Johnny Castle, famously Patrick Swayze in the film, and ensure the duo keep the gig. Romance is sure to follow but the mis-matched couple face opposition at every turn.


It is a winning formula, so why change it? And it is done well in this adaptation. The rotating set offers seamless and quick scene changes, some imagination brings such scenes as rehearsing in the lake to the stage and Baby – played by Katie Eccles – makes some of the quickest costume changes I have ever seen.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the audience lapped up this performance and were on their feet begging for more at the end. Understudy Robert Colvin stepped up last night to play Johnny, the role usually filled by Lewis Griffiths, and gave a credible performance as the talented, young dancer with a chip on his shoulder as he finds himself the entertainment in an affluent world he could only dream of inhabiting.

Advertising But it is his dancing which whipped up certainly the female element of the audience – that and the odd cheeky exposure of flesh.

He does help put the dirty in Dirty Dancing. Katie Eccles is a likeable Baby and skilfully portrays the maturing of an idealistic young girl exposed to the harsh realities of life – as well as the fairly rapid development of her dancing ability. An extra treat in the stage show are the performances by Michael Kent, who plays Billy, and Sophia Mackay, as Elizabeth, who provide the rare, but quite powerful, vocal performances.

Romance, humour, dancing (some of it quite dirty) and the heart-warming storyline that we know so well.

What’s not to love about this show?

Runs at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday.

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