Sunday 17 December 2017

audience had the time of their lives

Bord Gais Energy TheatreFiona Gribben

Dirty Dancing has become a cult classic since it was first released 27 years ago.

The coming of age tale focusing on 17-year-old Frances 'Baby' Houseman who learns some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing during an unforgettable summer.

The film inevitably got the West End treatment; opening in London in 2006 where it has been seen by six million people to date and is the longest running stage show in the history of the Aldwych theatre, its base in the city.

Initially the show came in for a bit of a mauling with some critic's labelling it 'Dirgy Dancing' for the lack of cohesion between the iconic music and slightly clunky dialogue.


Despite this, the production has thrived since its 2011 stint and has returned for a run at the Bord Gais Theatre until July 26.

The packed and thoroughly-entertained 
audience on Thursday night's performance 
certainly seemed happy.

The minute the curtain goes up, the audience are immediately transported to 1963 as we see star 'Baby' arrive at the Kellerman's Holiday Resort in New York's Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents.

The teenager, played with endearing goofiness by Rosanna Frascona, shows little interest in the camp's activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the 
staff quarters when an all-night dance party is in full swing.

The dancing sequences throughout the two-and-a-half show were highly impressive, not least by the male lead Gareth Bailey who plays brooding dance teacher Johnny Castle.

The role made a star of Patrick Swayze who was originally the second choice for producers who favoured a 20-year-old Billy Zane.


Although it is a largely enjoyable production, there is a notable lack of chemistry between Bailey and Fracona.

This glitch did not seem to bother the audience and their participation in the show with various frequent whoops, sighs and wolf whistles generated a brilliant atmosphere inside the theatre.

The production is less of a musical and more of a film on stage which explains the lack of singing, however it was completely perplexing how famous numbers such as She's Like the Wind got so little space. At the same time key material from the film is honoured and scenes are reprised line for line, a treat for those who have grown up with the original blockbuster.

And it is this demographic of women who the stage show is aimed squarely at. Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story is ideal for a girlie night out.


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