Dirty Dancing Review – ‘A phenomenal extravaganza’

[All images courtesy of Bradford Alhambra] 


Just pass me that fan, darling, it’s so hot in here!

It may seem like a tall order for a theatrical musical version of the iconic 1987 chick flick to live up to expectations. But this feel-good, up-tempo romance manages to combine cheesy nostalgia with a deeper timelessness to create a sizzling and sensational show. Not only is it a musical feast, it is also a phenomenal all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.


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It benefits from outstanding performances by the two lead roles: Jessie Hart as “Baby” and Lewis Kirk as Johnny. Hart gives it just the right amount of sassy, feisty fire coupled with big-hearted dreamy idealism to win us over. Kirk has a definitive slick and smooth finesse which, combined with his enviable physique and athleticism, makes him the perfect ladies’ man.

His dance partner Penny (the stunning long-legged blonde bombshell Claire Rogers) is a damsel in distress, helped out by Baby’s doctor father in a quite tragic side to the show. And if you’ve seen the film and wondering how the various locations for the dance scenes are dealt with, the video and projection design by Jon Driscoll ably solves such logistical problems inventively, without being overused.


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Michael Weeden’s on-stage orchestra excels, Sarah Tipple’s direction is clear and consistent, while Kate Champion’s choreography carries us seamlessly from scene to scene. The fantastic finale with the famous line ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’ and that perfect lift (Hart appears to fly!) sent me home with a lighter heart and a cheeky grin – definitely doctor’s orders for those midsummer blues!

Reviewed on 7 July, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford where it runs until 25 July. The show is also touring – more info here.

Rich Jevons