Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Dirty Dancing was the famous 1987 film that propelled Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze to stardom. The hit film is now a successful stage show with the 2016/17 tour playing to sold out audiences over the country and taking over £13 million in ticket sales. It is currently showing at Preston Guild Hall and as a fan of the original film I was really pleased when we were asked to go and review it.
Spending the summer of 1963 with her family at Kellerman’s, a resort in the Catskill mountains, innocent Frances “Baby” Houseman played by Kira Malou falls in love with the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle played by Michael O’Reilly. Dirty Dancing is a classic “coming of age” tale and Baby soon learns more than just dancing!! I loved the film and was really pleased that the stage show has kept the story intact and still has the fantastic soundtrack from the original film.
Looking very similar to Jennifer Gray, Kira Malou was perfectly cast as Baby and the ladies in the audience certainly appreciated the casting of Michael O’Reilly as Johnny with plenty of whoops, whistles and cheering whenever he took to the stage. I thought he had a look of Patrick Swayze too which was an added bonus!
The show is full of hit songs which add to the 60’s atmosphere, the music was a mix of original recordings and a live band that appeared on stage and were all very talented musicians.
The show included plenty of humour, my husband liked Baby’s first awkward dance steps and we both loved the hilarious performance by Baby’s sister Lisa in the end of season show.
The set was excellent and set changes were slick, projection was used at the back of the stage to depict scenes and there were also plenty of special effects. The tree falling and becoming a balancing bar was especially well done. The famous scene from the lake where Baby and Johnny practice their dance lift was re-created but as we were quite close to the stage the effect wasn’t as good as I suspect it was in the rows further back.
Simone Covele was amazing as Penny, her dancing was superb and was a real highlight of the night.
This is such a vibrant, happy and lively show and before we knew it Johnny was saying the famous line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” and we were at the finale of the show – a great dance number with the whole cast on stage dancing to (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.
The musical does has an age restriction of 12 and we would probably agree that this is about right, whilst (almost) nothing is seen there are a few scenes that are unsuitable for younger children.
Preston Guild Hall is located in the centre of Preston with ample parking nearby, the Bus Station car park is the best one to use as it has a covered walkway to the Guild Hall complex and is very reasonably priced. The Guild Hall Arcade has been renovated over the last couple of years and now boasts a fantastic range of food and drink outlets so for those wanting to make a night of it there is plenty of choice.
This is a fantastic show and we certainly had the time of our life!
Tickets cost from £41.50 to £56.50 (booking fees may apply).
Dirty Dancing is at the Preston Guild Hall from 13-17 November 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.prestonguildhall.co.uk or call the box office on 01772 804444.
The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 1HT | 01772 804444