REVIEW: Dirty Dancing The Musical First National Tour – King’s Theatre Glasgow 22nd October 2011

“It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.”

“On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, ‘Baby’ shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the staff quarters when an all-night dance party is in full swing. Mesmerised by the raunchy dances move and the pounding rhythms, ‘Baby’ can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor.”

“Baby’s life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.”

Well… have I had the time of my life?…This was one of the shows that I bypassed when it was running in London. I had also heard from friends that it wasn’t worth West End prices, so when it embarked on its first tour I thought I’d chance the admission price – though this is pretty steeply priced (£52.50) compared to most touring productions.

In adapting a movie with a myriad amount of scene changes the designers cleverly overcame the obvious hurdles this would cause in a theatre. A lot of projections were used as well as the sets – now I’m not normally a big fan of projected scenery but this was particularly effective. Except in the famous “river scene” where the audience just hooted with laughter at the effect. (A slightly more sober audience might have taken it all a bit more seriously.)

It’s probably the only musical I’ve seen where none of the principles sing – it is Dirty Dancing after all – but it was none the less enjoyable for that.

Paul-Michael Jones and Penny Gooch (above) were both fantastically talented dancers as were most of the ensemble except Helen Kurup as Kathy, though I’m sure she was hired as a singer her lack of dancing skills just looked all the more awkward when playing beside such a gifted cast of dancers. This isn’t your traditional musical but if you enjoy it as a piece of entertainment it’s pretty damn good.

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