Dirty Dancing (3*)

Ian’s 3* Review:

We went to see Dirty Dancing at the Playhouse this evening – this year’s Christmas show.  I had pretty low expectations I have to admit – I suspected it would be a cheesy atrocity.

The show lacks any originality, sticking to the film pretty closely.  For the hardcore fans that’s probably a good thing, but it felt a bit like a tribute rather than a show in it’s own right to me.  Some parts of the story felt like the cast were going through the motions rather than really acting, and some scenes are so short that the pace is wearing.

I was pleasantly surprised in many ways however.  The set looked great and worked well, and the cast were clearly talented.  Johnny Castle was appropriately charismatic, and Penny was a just fabulous dancer.  The production was self depracating enough to avoid offensive levels of cheesiness, and it evoked fond memories of the film.  The big numbers were all there, and all worked OK.

Overall it’s lightweight but harmless fun!

Ruth’s 3* Review:

I thought this would be a musical – first mistake.  It isn’t a musical.  I had assumed that like Legally Blonde they would take a film, sing some of the original songs, and add in some new ones to further the plot.  Instead it has music, and occasionally someone sings it at the side of the stage, but it is incidental music and so is pretty much a direct rehash of the film.  There is also a surprisingly small amount if dancing.  So in these respects I was disappointed.

I was also surprised at how they managed to take an hour and a half long film, convert it into an hour and a half long play without adding anything new – but also take out any depth or integrity that the original had.  I felt it was entirely stripped of the painful coming of age juxtapositions in the film – Baby with her parents / other guests / her sister / the staff / society.  Her big ideas and her concurrent naivety.  Which meant that for me it was lacking in charm and human interest.

What it did have was a few good lines that the audience *loved* (“I carried a watermelon” and “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”) but without the human interest behind them they were just meaningless words over-egged for the audience.  So basically it was just panto.  And I’m not keen on panto.

I’m giving this a 3* though.  It was fine to watch, it did not offend me (unlike last year’s Christmas show We Will Rock You which I found painfully bad).  The audience loved it.  The set was excellent and what dancing there was was good.  I thought the actor playing Baby did a good job of acting learning to dance.  Johnny had some charisma.  And there was one or two bits that showed it wasn’t taking itself too seriously.  Thank God.

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