Review: Dirty Dancing @ The Bristol Hippodrome
by Danni Gillespie
Kira Malou (Baby) Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) | Photo credit: Alastair Muir
Dirty Dancing is by far one of my favourite films and one of the only DVDs I own. When it’s on, I’m pretty sure I could quote 85% of the lines, sing 90% of all the songs (badly) and I fall in love with Johnny Castle every single time. I felt the Dirty Dancing stage show had a lot to live up to, and I’m sure many others in the audience felt the same way.
The Dirty Dancing stage show is everything you want it to be: dazzling dancers recreating the iconic lifts, splits, iconic “dirty dancing” you could only achieve in your dreams and included the ultimate soundtrack performed by the onstage Kellerman band.
With the arrival at Kellermans, the audience are reunited with all of their favourite characters within minutes. The Houseman family, Penny (Simone Covele), Max Kellerman (Jack McKenzie) and Neil Kellerman (Greg Fossard) are immediately identifiable without needing an introduction, each of these characters are a perfect replica of their 80’s originals. Johnny Castle (Michael O’Reilly) was every bit the leather wearing, tango dancing, muscle man Patrick Swayze portrayed.
The first act kept itself faithful to the film, with many of the lines and inflections unchanged. The audience were able to watch Baby (Kira Malou) and Johnny’s love story blossoming right in front of their eyes (with the help of that watermelon, of course): a magical experience for any Dirty Dancing fan. The second act introduced some new additions. The audience were introduced to nuanced and fresh sub-plots that added depth to a few of the background characters stories, and because of this we are treated to more stage time with both Neil Kellerman and Billy Kostecki (Alex Wheeler).
The set did the Kellerman’s resort of the film justice. The hotel set moved and turned depending on what room was needed and each part was ingeniously used to portray the iconic scenes from the film. Each costume was perfectly eluded to the film and what each character was wearing in that particular scene, from obvious costumes to Baby’s pink dress and Jonnhy’s Balck vest and trouser combination, to the top baby wore the first night she stayed with Johnny.
The set was great, the costumes perfect and the cast were phenomenal, but does it compare to the much loved classic 1987 film? Of course not - but I’m not sure anything ever will. What this show brings, however, is full-on fun, an abundance of charm and wonderful doses of nostalgia.