REVIEW: Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage at Grimsby Auditorium
It can’t be denied that Dirty Dancing is an almost universally adored film - and re-birthing such a well established and popular institution like that can be a dangerous move.
An overwhelming sense of anticipation and expectation filled the theatre as it was clear that most of the audience knew the story by heart.
And as the first bars of the opening song - ‘Be my Baby’ by the Ronettes - boomed and rang in the air, the audience was transported back in time to 1963.
The mood intensified with beautifully choreographed dancers’ silhouettes and rich, glorious vocals from Sophia Mackay - followed by the stage exploding into vibrant colour with seamless and ever-moving props and pieces of set to give the illusion of a much larger performance space.
Lewis Griffiths’ Johnny had an effortlessly authoritative stage presence, dressed in iconic ‘Johnny’ attire complete with surly dark sunglasses. His performance was extremely successful - other members of the company were guests on his stage and he had the audience like putty in his hands.
Katie Eccles’ Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman grew and grew throughout the performance - and the intimacy of theatre gave the audience a deeper insight and connection to Baby’s relationships and emotions, with Eccles captivating the audience with her Baby’s exquisitely deep and at times raw characterisation.
We get to see a much closer study of the dynamic between the characters of Dirty Dancing. Baby and Johnny’s romance is convincing and uplifting - while Baby’s increasingly tortured relationship with her father Jake Housman (Julian Harries), as trust and expectations between them are broken and steadily regained.
The audience also got a stronger flavour for the bond of love and respect between Jake and Marjorie Houseman (Simone Craddock); the couple shared many quiet and loving words and dances which served to strengthen the presentation of their relationship and contributed to the family dynamic as a whole.
Other highlight performance were Carlie Milner’s Penny Johnson, whose sass, style and tremendous dancing skill took the audience’s breath away.
Lizzie Ottley’s Liza Houseman fired up the show with stand-out comedy and charisma: she was a joy to watch.
The obvious highlights of the show were the jubilant dance sections - particularly the heart-stopping closing number to ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’, preceded by the much anticipated and much adored line: ‘nobody puts baby in a corner’.
Cheers and laughter erupted from the audience throughout the joyous and triumphant performance. It was faithful to the original film from costuming, to dances, to dialogue - which is little wonder given that it was written by Eleanor Bergstein, script writer of the phenomenally successful 1987 film.
The production is a sheer joy to Dirty Dancing fanatics and newcomers alike.
Prices range between £23 and £50, and can be booked by calling the Grimsby Auditorium box office on 0300 300 0035, or online at www.grimsbyauditorium.org.uk