Dirty Dancing at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

10-15 June 2019

Reviewed by Zoey Caldwell

It is 1988 and I am 12 and on a school trip to Germany, and I watch Dirty Dancing for the first time. I was hooked.

The VHS was played, rewound and played again. I knew the script and loved the soundtrack. I was in love with Johnny and Baby and their happy ever after.

Fast forward over 30 years and I cannot explain how excited I was to be able to see the stage show of this iconic movie.

Set in 1963, at the Kellerman’s holiday park, the story follows a young, naïve girl known to all as Baby and her family on their first vacation in six years.

The script stays very close to the original screenplay, and the music stays true to the soundtrack. The music is a mixture of tracks and the cast singing, personally  Colin Charles wowed me, he plays Tito Suarez and his voice and swagger are spot on.

Hats off to Michael O’Reilly he had huge Patrick Swayze size feet to fill and he did a good job. It is clear that Michael embraces the stage and enjoys his work very much, maintaining a very convincing chemistry with Baby (Kira Malou). At times his moves seemed more rigid than Swayze’s, but nerves are bound to play apart in that, by no means took away from the performance. I really enjoyed the sheer delight on O’Reilly’s face in the finale. He worked so hard during the performance and conquered all the moves from the movie. Including the lifts.

Malou plays Baby well, a natural mover it is amusing watching her playing Baby pre-lesson stage. The chemistry between Malou and O’Reilly can be believed and the magical scenes that we all love do not disappoint. Their dancing is spot on and the bedroom scene is hot!

Full Company: Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage
Photo Credit Alastair Muir

The whole cast work so well together to provide an amazing night of entertainment. The scenery changes were seamless, using the cast and clever choreography to move pieces of set. The water scene is cleverly executed and the audience enjoyed it greatly.

As expected the cast are great movers, Millie Hood (Penny Johnson) is sensational. Fantastic actor and dancer and legs that go on forever! Lizzie Ottley (Lisa Houseman) was perfect for the role, she plays Lisa so well and made us laugh out loud more than once. Lynden Edwards plays Dr Houseman brilliantly, really convincing.

I was confused by Mr Schumacher, Mark Faith plays the character with an air of comedy and he plays a greater role in the musical than the Schumachers play in the movie, to be honest I am not sure I liked the adjustment to the character. This is no reflection on Mark Faith, it is the character as a whole I just could not connect to the one in the movie, rightly or wrongly viewers are going to make comparisons, and as the movie wasn’t broken there was no need to fix it!

There are too many cast members to mention them all individually, but the show is seamless, the acting is good, the dancing is fabulous and the evening was brilliant.

The Royal & Derngate is situated in Northampton town centre and is located near a local car park. There are a number of theatre bars where refreshments can be purchased and is connected to John Franklin’s bar. The staff are welcoming and professional. In all my visits it has not failed to disappoint.

The evening was an amazing one and everybody that is involved in the production, not just the cast have done an amazing job. The movie is an iconic one, and the stage show has done a sterling job in bringing to life.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £11 (booking fees may apply).

Dirty Dancing is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 10-15 June 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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