Reviewed by Pamela Wright
Last night I was at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford for the opening night of the 16/17 tour of Dirty Dancing the musical. We parked at Jacobs Well (which is amazing value at just 50p after 6pm and free on a bank holiday).
We got to the theatre around 7:15pm and as soon as we walked through the doors the buzz of excitement hit you. We were greeted by a member of staff who showed us where to collect our tickets, we collected these easily and made our way to our seats, outside the entrance to the Stalls we were greeted by more staff who showed us to the most suitable entrance into the theatre to get to our seats, then inside the auditorium there were additional members of staff available to help you find your seat. Our seats were located in row M and we had seats in the centre which gave us perfect viewing, we got ourselves comfy and waited for the show to begin.
Just after 7:30pm the lights went down and the auditorium was filled with gasps, then the opening beats of the well-known soundtrack to the film “Be my baby” filled the room. The stage was then lit up and Frances Housman aka “Baby” (who was portrayed perfectly), played by Katie Hartland, took centre stage packing her suitcase and books ready to go off on her annual family vacation to the Catskills Resort, the 1st song “Magic Moment” was performed.
The props then change and we are transported to Baby and her family arriving at their vacation. As soon as the cast came onto the stage, my eyes were immediately drawn to “Penny”, performed by Carlie Milner, who was wearing a lovely orange dress, the production team couldn’t have got a more perfect fitting cast member to play her role, everything about her was perfectly matched (from her posture to the way she smiled) to the character in the film.
There was no introduction needed when Johnny (Lewis Griffiths) entered the stage, his swagger and trademark shades combined by the audiences excitement were enough for everyone to know exactly who he was, he performed the intense dance scenes with enthusiasm and then played the scenes that show his vulnerable side brilliantly too, I also enjoyed (so did most of the women in the audience by the sound of it) the “cheeky” little scene that he did.
The stage set up was absolutely amazing, the sets moved mechanically which helped to transport us along with the characters directly from 1 scene where they would be entering a door from outside a building straight into the next scene where they were actually entering the room.
The production followed the story of the film perfectly and involved the audience by over emphasising and waiting for reactions in the popular scenes that it’s known and loved for, for example when Baby enters the staff party and meets Johnny for the first time and proudly announces she “carried a watermelon” and that cringe moment when she dances with Johnny for the first time.
The connection that the characters Penny & Johnny have is beyond amazing, the dances they performed were outstanding and they made them look effortless. Both their physiques were impressive and you can see that they must train and practice extremely hard to make their performances look so fantastic.
Throughout the show we are introduced to the other various characters who were also played perfectly, the 2 that stood out for me were Neil Kellerman (Greg Fossard) who is the grandson of the resort owner Max Kellerman, he really played on his geeky/nerdy character which was hilarious to watch, and not forgetting Baby’s sister Lisa (Lizzie Ottley) who was hilarious in her scenes, especially where she over emphasised here “hula” song, the whole audience were laughing, it was emphasised at being sang soooo badly that it was brilliant and she got a huge round of applause.
The performance of “in the still of the night” was powerful with an impressive sax that accompanied it perfectly.
The whole show was brilliant, the cast were amazing and the sets were genius, they even managed to bring the log and the lift practising scenes to reality.
The show came to an end after the famous “nobody puts baby in a corner” and the well-known LIFT both of which had screams and cheers from the audience.
There were some songs and scenes in the show that I didn’t remember from the film but having read through the program it says that wanted to get more into depth with certain characters so they did this by adding more songs and scenes. This has made me really want to watch the movie again so I can pick them all out hahaha.
This production of Dirty Dancing was such an amazing performance to watch and ended with a standing ovation. It was also so lovely to see how genuinely happy and proud all the cast members were at the end of the show when they all took to stage and took a bow.
Tickets cost from £22 to £50 (booking fees may apply).
Dirty Dancing the musical is at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford from 1-6 May 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.bradford-theatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01274 432000.
Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ | 01274 432000