REVIEW: DIRTY DANCING (New Victoria Theatre) ★★★★

Did I had the time of my life? Not quite, but watching this touring interpretation of the fan favourite of 80’s movie Dirty Dancing come alive on stage, did not feel like a wasted 90 minutes.

Having enjoyed two successful stints in London’s West End, Dirty Dancing has worked its way to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre this week and judging by the audience reaction it went down…… relatively well.

We are transported back to the summer of 1963, to the famous Kellerman’s resort where the Houseman family are to spend their family summer vacation.

Kira Malou plays Frances “Baby” Houseman with a real vulnerability and sweet innocence. The resemblance to Jennifer Grey from the movie is apparent and she plays this role with passion. However, I did not feel much chemistry between her and co star Michael O’Reilly playing Johnny Castle. With no fault of his own, my first impression of Johnny was that what he was wearing (including sunglasses) made him look like Arnold Schwarzenegger from The Terminator.

Things took a further dip in my impression when he started to talk, sounding like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. His deep voice was sometimes so low that it was hard to understand what was being said. It would seem that the audience reacted better to his dancing and muscular physique, rather than his acting – seeing his naked derriere garnered many a wolf whistle from the ladies (and several men).

The character that stood out for me was that of Penny, beautifully played by Simone Covele. Penny is the usual dance partner of Johnny but for reasons beyond her control she passes this onto “Baby” with a genuine sense of care and mentorship. Simone performs routines that would give a Strictly professional a run for their money.

Comedy comes from Baby’s sister Lisa, played by Lizzie Ottley. Her solo number of the Hula is worth every penny and had the audience laughing at every second of her squeaky rendition.

The main thing for me that stood out for me was the Set Design by Roberto Comotti and lighting by Valerio Tiberi. Everything from the famous lake scenes, to the competition halls, to the resort grounds were set up beautifully. Using a large screen to project many of these scenes worked extremely well. What would of made this extra impressive would be if after every time they got back up from falling in the water would be if their hair was wet but I guess this isn’t possible.

All in all this is an enjoyable production and by the time the finale kicked in, most of the audience were living for the final lifting scene, which did deliver to great applause.

Grab yourself a ticket and remember “nobody puts Baby in the corner”

Reviewed by Bryan Doyle
Photo: Alastair Muir


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