11 December 2014 to 3 January 2015
Reviewed by Helen Jiggins
OK, so I am biased. I admit it, hands up… proper die-hard fan here! Yes, I anticipated every single line in the show, even though some of it included scenes cut from the original movie, but I have seen them on the special addition DVD depicting “deleted scenes”. So, Johnny Castle (aka Gareth Bailey) looked rather gorgeous, but his rather eccentric (read rather too deep and inaudibly thick) American accent meant you HAD to know the script to follow the plot and yes, Micheal Remick’s Max Kellerman’s accent slipped occasionally into some odd Cockney dialect (this is supposed to be America in the summer of 1963!), but I will not hear a word against this production! I loved it!
The choreography was breath-taking, as perhaps it should be, given the way the choreography in the original movie took the (movie-going) world by storm. Glenn Wilkinson and Craig Wilson, those apparently responsible for this aspect of the production, have reason to be proud. Mind you, the addition of Claire Rogers, as Penny, helped enormously – she is a very talented dancer and this audience member gasped on several occasions over her obvious talent!
There was a little bit more “politics” in this version that I can recall in the film, centring on the civil rights movement that would have been a hot topic in 1963, although I believe myself to be a political animal, I am not very sure how this enhanced this production, but it didn’t feel preachy or out-of-place and at least set the era-specific context appropriately, although given the current issues in Ferguson, USA this issue has a long way to go.
The costumes were almost unseen because they fitted the specification so well. Mainly those given to Baby, aka Frances Houseman (Roseanna Frascona). Now, here was the most perfect Baby! And I mean perfect! She looked the part, she danced the part, she dressed the part! Baby as the everyday it-could-have-been-me girl who gets “chosen” to learn to dance with the very dishy Johnny and falls in love… Roseanna Frascona is the new Jennifer Grey. Debate over!
Oh this was good, seriously good. I lived every minute and loved it too. The Oxford New Theatre is an excellent venue with lovely staff and a warm atmosphere. That atmosphere was boosted by many, many fans in the audience who whooped and clapped appropriately (and occasionally perhaps plot-appropriately) at every “movie milestone” – I cannot begin to describe the volume following the words “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” or nanoseconds after “The Lift”! Mind you,
I may have been at least partially responsible! Oh this was good! Really good. Go and see it if you can… did I mention that I may be biased?
5 “BIG FAT” stars!
Tickets cost from £12.90 to £79.90 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Dirty Dancing is at the New Theatre Oxford until 3 January 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020