Dirty Dancing at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review


dirtydancing2016Dirty Dancing
Royal & Derngate, Northampton

31 October to 5 November 2016


Reviewed by Jayne Wiggins

Set in the happy hazy summer of post war America, this musical based on the film of the same title had so much potential to disappoint! The music which is so well known from the 1987 film that audiences would have been left feeling empty had classics such as “Hey! Baby” and “Hungry Eye” not been there somewhere. It did not disappoint.

I took along a very excited 15 year old theatre fan who did not grow up with the film but was as excited as the average 40 year old in the audience. The mood was set with a simple “Dirty Dancing” logo on the curtain and there was an audible excitement in the air as the music started and the show began behind the white out. The gasp from many a female in the audience was loud as Johnny made his appearance on stage!

The scenery was spectacular in its simplicity especially the innovative under water scene! To try and capture an underwater scene left me wondering how this could be done as it is one of the most iconic scenes in the film, but it was done with class and clever use of curtains and hidden mats and they practised their lifts in the ‘water’. Though the actors came out dry, the scene did not lose its understanding.

The characters of Johnny and Baby were perfectly cast. Katie Hartland was demure as Baby and kept true to the innocent form she has in the film version. This made the ‘nobody puts Baby in the corner line’ so much more effective as the audience cheered Johnny’s line! Lewis Griffiths plays the rebellious Johnny to perfection. Not only does he look good but he has the dance moves to carry this all off.

The character Penny Johnson played by Carlie Milner was the real credit to the show though with her expertise as a dancer shining through the show. She owned the stage whenever she stepped foot on it and my daughter was transfixed each time she performed.

The iconic lift was nearly a disaster with a slight slip and near drop! Rather than ruin the show, it actually gave it an element of humour.

There were mixed reviews in this house as my 15 year old was happy and satisfied with the live music used on stage. There were 6 musicians who played in character throughout the show, with other iconic music on backing tracks. Whilst I prefer to hear a live audience (Indeed we saw an Am Dram show a few days earlier with a full orchestra) my daughter felt the music was right.

The musicians played the audience out as the show ended which gave a real feel good feeling to an iconic show which will be pleasing audiences for years to come.

Rating: 4/5

Tickets costs from £18 to £46 (booking fees may apply).

Dirty Dancing is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 5 November 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01604 624811.

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

4 Star

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