The Palace Theatre, Manchester; Tuesday 18th July 2017
Based on the cheesy story of a young American girl who falls in love with an all-American dancing hunk whilst on a family holiday, Dirty Dancing is easily one of the most recognised and celebrated cinematic productions of the 1980s.
The original film was a huge hit, and much of the big-screen power and intensity has been transferred directly onto the stage to deliver a good-old-fashioned public entertainment spectacle.
Every aspect of this performance radiates Hollywood levels of glitz and glamour: the lavishly designed set capable of transforming in seconds from the inside of a hotel to the middle of a lake; the huge singing voices delivered by beaming smiles that bring the story alive; and of course the iconic songs and dance moves that are so closely associated with the film.
This was a proper crowd pleaser, even for those that may not have been part of the original 1980s hype. Lead actor Lewis Griffiths played his role to perfection: strutting around in his tight leather jacket, with his neatly combed back hair, he had the perfect ‘60s throwback look. And when he “accidentally” took his top off and then bared his bottom in one scene, certain cohorts of the audience nearly bought the roof crashing down with their vocal appreciation of his fine masculine form.
Griffiths had the audience in the palm of his hand. In the final scenes he delivered his defiant “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” line: the whole theatre erupted in an orgy of jubilation and glee – bubbling excitement filled the room as it became clear that Griffiths was about to deliver some of the finest dance moves anyone could ever hope to witness. Audience members were bouncing up and down in their seats uncontrollably, like children on a sofa who’ve just been told that you’re putting their favourite cartoon on the TV.
Dirty Dancing the musical/play is a huge commercial enterprise, having now run for more than a decade in multiple languages all over the world. It’s designed to draw in the crowds in and tap into the burning nostalgia for the original film. It may not break any new ground artistically but it’s still a thoroughly satisfying night of entertainment that will leave a smile on anyone’s face.