Dirty Dancing – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

I’ll hold my hands up. I am yet to see the iconic film of Dirty Dancing all the way through. I’ve definitely seen clips and maybe caught the end or middle on tv a couple of times. But yes, I am a sinner and probably don’t qualify to have any say on this show.

A cast of young and old are found at Kellerman’s resort in summer of 1963 where Baby is torn between her love for Johnny Castle, dance teacher stud who is heavily reminiscent of a Grease T-Bird member and her loyalty to her slightly out of touch father. All this happening amongst the sexual revolution of Dirty Dancing, which contrasts heavily with scenes of civilised family dinners. Many abrupt scene changes in which long floaty dresses transformed into hot pants and crop tops allowed for the nervous and mischievous laughter to seep out of the audience.

The director, Federico Bellone knew exactly how to please an audience of eager and dedicated fans. The production aimed and succeeded in not missing out a single scene or memorable moment from the 1987 movie. Bellone was armed with iconic lines and a entire night building up to ‘The Lift’, therefore it was difficult for the fans to see any error. However I found the movement of the story from film to stage a little flat and unimaginative as there was little change. This left some sections a little jerky and unsuitable.

The star of the show was Lewis Griffiths as the gorgeous and uber cool Johnny Castle. He oozed charisma and confidence as the bad boy in tight t shirts and slicked back hair. He was without a doubt a crowd pleaser, only out shone by the flash of his behind in act two which had the whole audience screaming.

Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, played by Katie Eccles, had all the required innocence and dorky dance moves which melted away as the story progressed. She carried out the role perfectly adequately but your eye always seemed to turn to Lewis Griffiths, for more than just his looks.

The dancing was a real high point of the show. The choreography by Gillian Bruce is vibrant throughout the steamy hidden dances, full of raunchy gyrating and the perfectly executed merengues by Johnny Castle and his partner Penny Johnson (Carlie Miller). The cast pulled a exciting and dynamic finale out of the bag with a lively rendition of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, which of course climaxed with the unmistakable ‘The Lift’.

There was plenty of music but it wasn’t exactly ‘musical’ music. There was less focus drawn to the musical element of the show, and I was disappointed by the absence of a sing-along to “She’s like the wind”. However I enjoyed the narrator-like-singers played by Michael Kent and Sophia McKay. Their voices were outstanding.

The show isn’t exactly groundbreaking but it perfectly serves as a high energy and full of fun production, especially for the die hard fans. 

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