REVIEW: Dirty Dancing The Classic Story On Stage – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews here

Dirty Dancing was never going to be anything other than a rip-roaring, raucous, raise the roof hit with a Glasgow audience notorious for its enthusiasm for a great night out; returning as it is to the city for yet another month-long run at the King’s Theatre.

It hardly seems necessary to outline the story, faithfully following as it does the much-beloved 1987 movie’s script (albeit with a few new additions), but for those who have been living under a rock for the last quarter of a century, it goes something like this; It’s 1963 and American is at the dawn of a new era. Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and her wealthy family are on their summer vacation at Kellerman’s but the wholesome Houseman’s world is about to be turned upside down when Baby meets working class dance instructor Johnny Castle and the rest of the staff at the high-class holiday resort. Baby experiences a slice of life that she’s never seen before and what follows is a tale of passion, pain and prejudice all played out to a backdrop of some of the most famous tunes of the era.

First and foremost a dancer’s musical, the top-notch casting doesn’t disappoint, obviously chosen for their sublime skills, both Gareth Bailey (Johnny) and Claire Rogers (Penny) as well as the ensemble cast, are stunningly talented and the ease and grace with which they execute Kate Champion’s intricate and demanding choreography is mesmerising. Roseanna Frascona’s Baby is a competent and likeable Baby who, on stage, looks like Jennifer Grey in the days when she looked like Jennifer Grey. Also worthy of mention is Wayne Smith’s beautiful, hairs on the back of you neck-raising rendition of ‘In the Still of the Night’.

In this city, with their love for this show, it is the audience who play as big a part as anyone onstage: cheering and booing and hissing and whistling and singing their way through a script and songs they know off by heart and the warmth with which this cast and this show is welcomed is a joy to watch. Sondheim it isn’t, but it never claims to be, it’s a feelgood, escapist piece of fluff. It will certainly send you home with a smile on your face and a spring in your step and it might just help you forget your troubles for a few happy hours. What more could you want from a show.

Runs until 20th September

4.5*s