★★★ | Dirty Dancing, Liverpool Empire
Set in the 1960’s, Frances “Baby” Houseman goes to Kellerman’s holiday camp with her family. She befriends the staff of the camp and develops a crush on charismatic dance teacher, Johnny Castle. When Johnny’s dance partner cannot perform at a show at a local hotel, Baby steps in to ensure that they do not lose their jobs. But as Johnny and Baby rehearse, they fall in love and learn more from each other than just the dance moves.
Based on the hugely popular film of the same name, Dirty Dancing hits the stage with a show which follows the story of the film very closely, with the bulk of the script being comfortingly recognisable from the film. There are some additional scenes thrown in, which mainly expand on the political changes in the 60’s and some which flesh out the relationship between Baby and Johnny; whilst the show’s music came from a combination of both live and pre-recorded tracks, including “Hungry Eyes”, “Love Man” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”
Katie Eccles and Robert Colvin took the lead roles of Baby and Johnny, and had some chemistry between them; and they were supported by a broadly competent cast of singers, dancers and musicians. Unsurprisingly, the dancing was better than the acting, but given that the show’s main focus is the musical numbers it doesn’t cause too much of a problem.
The show has been given a major overhaul and is all the better for it. This production has a vibrant lighting design and has ushered in a luxurious, well designed and thoroughly detailed set which transform smoothly without ever interrupting the story; whilst the show has been sexed up a little with a few more bare chests and muscular arms on display. Overall, the production values here are very high and very impressive.
But where the show really succeeds is in its ability to bring the movie to life and recreating it on stage. All of the familiar lines, plot points, dance routines and songs are there and there is something very comforting about watching such a faithful recreation of the movie. For those who have not seen the film, the show is a good introduction to the world of Kellerman’s. For established fans of the film, the show will be hard to beat.
Dirty Dancing is playing at the Liverpool Empire until 18th September 2017
- Review taken from the Sheffield Theatre production