Based on the 1987 film of the same name, Dirty Dancing the musical is the classic story of story of 17 year old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman who goes on holiday to New York’s Catskill Mountains during the summer of 1963. Whilst there with her family, Baby happens upon an all-night dance party at her holiday resort. She observes the raunchy moves as well as noticing Johnny Castle, the resort dance instructor. Dirty Dancing sees Baby embark on a journey that teaches her a lot more than a few dance moves…
After opening in 2006, Dirty Dancing was performed for more than 1 million people, who loved the show bursting with energy from the stunning dance routines along with the familiar songs we know and love from the movie version. There were also a few added scenes to the musical, as written by Eleanor Bergstein. Dirty Dancing closed its doors on 9 July 2011 after 5 years in the West End.
“Dirty Dancing oozes sex appeal. This pulsating, dynamically choreographed production offers something distinct and more intimate than the celluloid experience. At such moments you realise why the show has broken all box office records. The light-hearted, frivolous young will have a ball with Dirty Dancing.”
Nicholas de Jongh at The Evening Standard
“Audiences won’t be short-changed on their expectations. It’s exactly what it says on the label: the classic story on stage”
Mark Shenton at the BBC
“This is a show that will give keen pleasure to Dirty Dancing addicts and to newcomers alike.”
Paul Taylor at the Independent
“A youthful and sexy cast dazzle and delight. This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot”
Mark Shenton at the Sunday Express
Dirty Dancing Review
Stylish and sultry dancing are the highlights to this classic 80s movie turned West End musical
Review by Alice Bzowska, 23/09/2010 at the Aldwych Theatre
I may not have quite had the time of my life whilst watching Dirty Dancing the musical in the West End, but I certainly had a good time. Having only seen the classic 1980s movie version once when I was about fourteen, I had forgotten tiny details of the story, but it seemed to me as though the stage version is word for word exactly the same as the film, with the dramatic line “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” spoken by Johnny Wright who plays the lead, Johnny Castle, the climax to the show, which gathered cheers and screams from the predominantly female audience.
Dirty Dancing is a story of love and lust, teacher and student, as Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman observes an all-night dance party whilst on holiday with her family in 1963. After dance teacher Johnny teaches her all of the steamy moves when his dance partner falls pregnant, Baby goes through a personal journey of discovery as she learns more about herself, about Johnny, and about love. The energetic story with sizzling dance moves and a fast-paced script will leave you feeling nostalgic and heart-warmed.
The lead characters of Johnny and Baby, played by Hannah Vassallo seemed to have been picked for their physical likeness to the film characters more than anything else, although being constantly onstage for the 2 and a half hours that the show runs for, they did a good job and their dancing often had me in awe and wishing that I could have lessons in partner dancing! Baby and Johnny do not sing throughout the show, as only two main characters do, and the musical was more like a play with songs. Johnny’s cousin Billy, played by Ray Quinn, is one of the characters who does sing, yet he was not in the show last night and his understudy Sandy Moffat took over. Moffat had a great voice and was certainly a highlight for me as he dueted with Carly Mercedes Dyer in the classic song, ‘I’ve Had The Time of My Life’.
At times I found that some of the set changes were a bit odd and unintentionally comical, such as when Johnny and Baby stood behind a screen to be faintly seen as though they were standing in a meadow or the sea. However, I understand that creating a movie on the stage is very difficult, and they managed well with the countless and quick set changes that are featured in the show. It didn’t deter from the musical itself as it is a fun-loving and non-serious show.
The musical definitely improved as the scenes went by, and I found myself being thoroughly entertained by the high level of dancing, especially by actress Nadia Coote who plays Johnny’s original dance partner, Penny Johnson. The intricate lifts and spins were highly absorbing, and were certainly a highlight for me. I also thought that the acting was of a high quality, in particular Hannah Vassallo, who was not cast as the original Baby, and has in fact been a previous member of the ensemble for a number of years.
Overall, I had a pleasing evening and would recommend that anyone who loves the movie should see the stage adaptation, as it is not much different and is sure to live up to your expectations. Watching such high level of dancing live on stage is exciting enough in itself, even if you do not know the movie version, and it made the show for me.
Videos and Photographs
The video below is footage from the original London cast of Dirty Dancing, with montages from the hit show.
This video is a podcast from the new cast of the London musical, Dirty Dancing, including Ray Quinn.
Ray Quinn recently joined the London cast of Dirty Dancing and can be seen in the video below in an interview on Sky News. Here, he talks about his role in the show.