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Dirty Dancing UK Tour - Review - Birmingham Hippodrome

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Sizzlingly Sexy Show That Recreates The Movie Classic
There's a special sentimentality attached to some classic films, like The Goonies, The Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing: iconic lines and sequences emblazoned on the brain that send a thrill of recognition and excitement each time they reappear.

Dirty Dancing1
Dirty Dancing relives iconic moments from the film

Dirty Dancing has these definitive moments more than most, whether it's the dancing lift, the practising in the water, the melon scene, and, of course, the line 'No-one puts Baby in the corner'. Each of these were greeted with a wave of giggles and cheers when the show reached Birmingham Hippodrome during its UK tour.

This production gives fans of the film just what it says on the tin as it rigidly follows the movie, even with actors who look incredibly similar to the originals. It only diverts slightly away when enhancing the backstory of Baby's parents and also a sub-plot of support for the Civil Rights Movement, which seems to fit in nicely with the 1963 setting.

Taking on Patrick Swayze's role of Johnny Castle is an impressive Lewis Kirk, who oozes sex appeal and charm from the moment he walks on stage. He had the mainly female audience panting with excitement, many of whom couldn't hold back wolf whistles when he took off his shirt. But dancing was his real forte.

He winds his hips appealingly in the direction of Baby (played by Dudley-born Jessie Hart) and it's not long before she is being transformed from gawky teenager into a sensual dancer at the hands of Johnny during one steamy summer on holiday with a soundtrack of hits like Hungry Eyes, She's Like The Wind and the ultimate feel-good song (I've Had) The Time Of My Life.

Dirty Dancing2
Steamy dancing in Dirty Dancing at Birmingham Hippodrome

There are some sizzling moments between the leads and there's more passion in the dancing than dirty.

It's a big budget show with talented, young singers adding a live soundtrack on stage, bolstered by a band above the hi-tech revolving stage that features a huge cinema screen to display backdrops and settings. Unfortunately, the night I saw the show, this technical wizardry led to a few difficulties and caused a brief pause to the proceedings just as it was gathering momentum.

The visual effects are particularly innovative, especially when it came to the scenes where Baby and Johnny practise their moves outside, transforming them into a large field and the water. It was very tongue-in-cheek but hit the right note with the crowd and got plenty of laughs without taking away the romance.

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Dirty Dancing is one of the hot tickets on the theatre circuit

After the interval, the drama focusses heavily on the emotional relationships around Baby and when the dancing was stripped away, there unfortunately didn't seem to be enough depth to some of the confrontations, particularly between Baby and her father.

The cast is finely-tuned however and Claire Rogers as troubled dancer Penny grabs the attention with her elegant, lithe movements, while James Coombes as Baby's father Dr Houseman also stands out as the strongest actor on stage. Interestingly, he appeared as the Milk Tray Man in the 1980s commercials.

Clearly aimed at fans of the film, Dirty Dancing manages to live up to recreating those famous moments in live theatre for a sensual, fun, sentimental show. I do wonder, however, if this production would be viewed as emphatically by those coming into it without ever seeing the movie.

Rating: 7/10

Dirty Dancing UK Tour
Tickets start from £20 and are available from the Dirty Dancing Tour website or by calling the theatres below.

Birmingham Hippodrome - 30 Apr 2015 - 23 May 2015
0844 338 5000

Nottingham Theatre Royal - 26 May 2015 - 13 Jun 2015
0115 989 5555

Theatre Royal Plymouth - 16 Jun 2015 - 4 Jul 2015
01752 267222

Bradford Alhambra - 7 Jul 2015 - 25 Jul 2015
01274 432000

The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury - 4 Aug 2015 - 22 Aug 2015
01227 787787

Norwich Theatre Royal - 25 Aug 2015 - 5 Sep 2015
01603 630000

Aberdeen His Majesty's Theatre - 8 Sep 2015 - 3 Oct 2015
01224 641122

Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales - 6 Oct 2015 - 17 Oct 2015
01492 872000
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Why? Sexy and sun theatre version of the iconic movie
When: Touring until October 2015
Phone: Various - see theatre list
Where: UK Tour - Birmingham Hippodrome, Nottingham, Bradford, Aberdeen and more
Cost: from £20
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