Review: Dirty Dancing at the Palace Theatre

Dirty Dancing tour

Over 30 years since the movie first hit cinema screens, the passion for all things Dirty Dancing shows little sign of abating.

The classic 80s chick flick, which starred Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman and Patrick Swayze as dance teacher Johnny Castle, is now a hugely successful musical which continues to tour the UK to packed audiences each night.

And now it’s back in Manchester at the Palace Theatre for the week, where fans get to enjoy all the memorable moments of the movie, with its biggest hits performed live on stage including Be My Baby, Hungry Eyes and, of course, I’ve Had the Time of My Life.

In this new production, there is perhaps the most convincing pairing of Johnny and Baby characters I’ve seen yet on stage – with Michael O’Reilly and Kira Malou in the leading roles.

Dirty Dancing on stage

O’Reilly brings the Swayze swagger, while Malou is not afraid to bring her own sense of humour to the character of Baby in her attempts to dance with Johnny at Kellerman’s holiday camp in America.

Special mention also goes to Simone Covele as dance teacher Penny whose routines with Johnny are utterly entrancing. She also niftily manages to bring vulnerability as much as sensuality to this role.

Fans of the film will be delighted to know it doesn’t stray too far from the original. All the favourite lines are there (“nobody puts baby in the corner” and “I carried a watermelon” spring to mind) as well as much-revered moments from the movie.  Yes, even the infamous lift in the lake is there thanks to some humorous acting from the leads.

And expect the biggest whoops and cheers of the night when the muscular O’Reilly niftily recreates another Swayze moment from the film. I won’t ruin the surprise too much other than to say it’s a little, ahem, cheeky.

Naturally, the beauty of this musical is recreating the final scene of the movie on stage – a truly feelgood affair – particularly when Baby finally manages to do that lift!  It ensures that on opening night there’s a resounding standing ovation which will no doubt be replicated for the rest of this week’s performances.

Until Saturday, April 27 at Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester



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