Straightforward stage recreation of the hit 80s film, boosted by an excellent live band and slick dancing
This article is from 2012.
There are some iconic moments that never get old. No matter how many times you see Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey finally crack ‘the lift’ at the end of Dirty Dancing, it always brings a thrill, and possibly a wee tear to the eye.
Had the producers of this ambitious stage version got that moment wrong, it would have been catastrophic. As it is, just as in the 1987 film, it’s a moment to cherish - and one that sends the already excitable crowd into apoplexy.
We know exactly when it’s coming, because aside from a couple of brief additions, Dirty Dancing live is a word for word, step by step carbon copy of the original. You can almost sense the audience waiting for key lines along the way (‘nobody puts Baby in a corner’ producing an especially raucous reaction).
Which is all well and good, because it’s a great film, but some things don’t translate to a stage and auditorium of this size - and sexual anticipation is one of them. Paul-Michael Jones and Jill Winternitz (aka Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman) try their best to capture the romantic chemistry and class tension of this legendary pairing, but it’s a tough challenge that doesn’t quite come off.
The supporting cast - and Emilia Williams’ as Baby’s big sister in particular - are largely strong. Elsewhere, attempts to broaden the 1960s socio-political plotline feel a tad tokenistic, but a sense of history is clearly defined by the excellent live band and slick dancing.
Edinburgh Playhouse until Sat 12 Jan.