“Nobody puts baby in the corner” - an iconic line that was met with rapturous whooping and applause at last night’s performance of Dirty Dancing. Playing to a more than gracious audience, you felt at times you were part of an oversized hen party with the wolf whistles, ‘oohing’ and plentiful giggles that happened within the walls of The Alexandra.
The key to the success of this show is in the title - ‘dancing’ - and dancing there was. Packed with impressive routines, meticulously choreographed by Gillian Bruce, the performers really set the place alight with their joyous movement.
Michael O’Reilly’s Johnny Castle proved a hit with the audience. A wonderfully talented dancer, it was hard to take your eyes off him. Whilst Simone Covele was nothing short of mesmerising as Penny Johnson, and when they danced as a pair it was a sheer delight. Completing the trio was Kira Malou as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. From nervously stumbling through steps, to the iconic final scene, she beautifully captured Baby’s journey.
There was strong support from Lizzie Ottley as Baby’s sister, Lisa, with some cleverly crafted comedic moments that gave her a chance to shine. Meanwhile, impressive vocals were delivered by the pairing of Sian Gentle-Green and Alex Wheeler, whose voices soared through the auditorium.
In an attempt to fully emulate the film, the show found itself stumbling through scenes that felt surplus to requirement. With a few trims here and there, the production could have felt slicker. There were also times where the sound felt slightly imbalanced and lines were mumbled, and the rather unrealistic use of the gauze in a couple of moments, led to the audience laughing.
Nevertheless, the show’s finale is special. And I defy anyone to not sit there with their mouth agape, because, boy do the cast deliver in that final scene. From Sian Gentle-Green and Alex Wheeler’s gorgeous vocals in I’ve Had The Time Of My Life, to that iconic lift, it really is a spectacular ending and judging by the audience reaction, they certainly had the time of their life too.
Dirty Dancing plays until 10 November at The Alexandra.
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