REVIEW Dirty Dancing The Bristol Hippodrome

Dirty Dancing The Bristol Hippodrome Review
01/07/2019 at 19.30pm

What a thoroughly enjoyable show and one of the few musicals based on a movie that actually works.

A clever set by Roberto Comotti, places us firmly at the Kellerman’s we recognise and keeps the action moving from scene to scene with tight snappy changes.

Eleanor Bergstein’s story being a dance drama translates beautifully to the stage. The audience wants to be immersed in a quality live retelling based on the original characters, choreography, lines and music that we know and love. Everything that’s brilliant about the original movie is intact in this stage show, earning it a well deserved standing ovation at the end.

Michael O’Reilly makes his professional debut as Johnny Castle. He has a tough act to follow in the footsteps of iconic original Patrick Swayze, and the much-loved 2017 Dirty Dancing tour lead Lewis Griffiths. He rises to the challenge admirably, a strong background in dance making him ideal for the smouldering moves and moody character.

He is perfectly paired with Katie Eccles as the innocent and naive Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. Eccles makes the perfect transformation from novice mover to Dirty Dancer on her journey through the story.

Although the action is centred on the developing relationship between Johnny and Baby in a coming-of-age tale, this is a show where all supporting characters are of equal importance.

Simone Covele as Penny Johnson was incredible. Perhaps of all the characters in the show, getting Penny right is the most important. She is the glue that brings the relationship together, done with a signature dance style of impossibly high kicks and truly mesmerising moves. This all comes together in perfect scene Hungry Eyes, which definitely raised the temperature of the audience in the Hippodrome theatre.

Lizzie Ottley merged the perfect blend of condescension and humour for Lisa Houseman. Her Hula song was highly anticipated and warmly received.

Time of My Life is one of the most famous scenes in movie history. It was brilliantly done, including That Lift.

What we get with this production is a quality piece of theatre with high production values, something not all touring productions are getting right at the moment. It’s not a lazy piece of nostalgia for those of us who grew up loving the film. It does it full justice in this stage adaptation which is warm, funny, fuzzy, passionate and fully faithful to our expectations.

In Bristol, we are lucky to get lots of high quality theatre, especially at The Bristol Hippodrome. But, it’s a rare thing to get one that pulls a piece of cinema history off screen, get it totally right and keeps the entire audience entertained throughout.

If you love the Dirty Dancing movie, you will definitely love this show.

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 06 July 2019.

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