The musical version of 1980’s movie Dirty Dancing is currently playing at the Piccadilly Theatre – it’s second incarnation after a phenomenally successful five year run at the Aldwych Theatre – and earlier this week I went along to see it.
Now let’s start by stating the obvious, and that as that I am not in Dirty Dancing’s target market. In the 1980s, the film (and it’s contemporaries Footloose and Flashdance) wasn’t really on my radar. I was much more interested in the escapism of the Back To The Future series and the teen angst flicks epitomised by The Breakfast Club.
That being said I do remember watching the movie, and from what I can recollect the stage production isn’t a million miles away – it follows the familiar formula of boy meets girl, father disapproves of daughter’s choice, father realises that boy is just a younger version of himself, everyone lives happily ever after.
Paul Michael-Jones makes a good fist of playing the lead character, Johnny Castle (he certainly has the dance moves down pat) and Jill Winternitz is perfectly cast as the demure and innocent Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. There’s a really good house band that perform most of the accompaniment and the singing is strong throughout, although it’s a shame that the really stand-out singer – Wayne Smith, who plays Johnny’s right-hand man Billy – gets wheeled out quite a way into the musical. My friend and I agreed that we would liked to have heard a great deal more from him.
The rest of the cast are very strong – the chemistry between James Coombes and Julia Nagle as Dr and Mrs Houseman is absolutely electric – and overall it’s a very colourful affair, particularly the girls who wear a rainbow of perfectly coutoured early 60s dresses set against the sparse white set.
If you remember the Dirty Dancing movie with fondness then you’ll definitely enjoy this incarnation – it certainly seemed to go down very well with the largely 40 and 50-something ladies who I would hazard a guess made up about 95% of the audience on Wednesday evening. If you go along do remember to whoop and holler when Johnny utters the famous line in the closing scenes so you don’t feel left out…
Dirty Dancing’s run at the Piccadilly Theatre continues until February 2014, when it goes on a tour of the UK. Check out their Twitter feed to discover what other people are saying about the show.