Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Director: Russ Spencer
A firm favourite with the ladies everywhere the girls night in classic Dirty Dancing returns to theatres across the country.
While this is not a musical, recorded music and a small but well-used band create the soundtrack for the show. There’s only a couple of full cast musical numbers but they are well crafted, particularly Yes and of course the finale (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life which are entertaining, full of energy and slick choreography from Gillian Bruce.
The adaptation of the production is pretty much a carbon copy of the film and so fans of the film certainly won’t be disappointed. However, where the performance needs to improve is in the pacing as particularly the first act felt a little sluggish and clunky.
Much to the delight of most of the audience, there were a couple of very intimate moments. The climax of the second act attracts many excitable audience members to wolf whistle and cheer. It did feel a little like this moment was left to continue for too long and could have been done in a much more slicker way. Similarly in the second act, while Jonny (Michael O’Reilly) was getting changed the towel drops to reveal a bit of flesh which again didn’t feel necessary but attracted a lot of audience attention. It seems to cheapen the production rather than enhance it.
O’Reilly works with Kia Malou who plays Baby very well and the two hold a large amount of chemistry which is shown mostly through their intimate dancing. O’Reilly creates a cocky but likeable Johnny fully of swagger while Malou creates an innocent Baby that is full of determination and self-discovery.
The set Roberto Comotti is great at being flexible and transformative. With one turn of a set of trees, you’re suddenly in staff quarters and in the next second your in the lake. It’s very detailed and does well to set each scene with mostly smooth transitions.
Overall this production does what it advertises. It’s an entertaining watch and it will please many who go to see it expecting to see a stage version of the film. The staging itself could do with being slicker but all in all, it’s a fun night out.