Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham B5 4DS, UK

REVIEW | Dirty Dancing UK Tour.

Dirty Dancing UK Tour
The Alexandra, Birmingham 

Dirty Dancing is undoubtedly one of my favourite films of all time and I'm not alone in loving the 80's flick that brought us the iconic character, Johnny Castle. I could happily watch this film on repeat, wanting to be Baby and be swept off my feet by Johnny with his aura and beautiful dancing hips. Of course, I wanted to see what the UK Tour had to offer and whether I still felt the exact same feelings as I do from the film. This musical already comes with its fan who are excited even before the opening beats of The Ronette's "Be My Baby" begin and it doesn't stop there. The audience is unsurprising predominantly female - making it for a great night out with your female friends. 

The story is a classic tale of forbidden love as Frances "Baby" Houseman, a petite seventeen-year-old falls head over heels for the dance instructor Johnny Castle during a 1963 summer holiday at Kellerman's Resort with her family. Ultimately their moves on the dancefloor end up in the bedroom and Baby has to endure the breakdown of her relationship with her father as she becomes more than a naive teenager but in fact a confident and sensual woman.

Taking on the role of Baby is Kira Malou and portrays her character amazing well. She has a great knack for quick costume changes and has precise timing with her humour too. To fill the shoes of Jennifer Grey is a difficult task but Malou does something special and individual with her portrayal that is fantastic. I guess those shoes aren't as big as filling those of Swayze and it's down to Michael O'Reilly to bring something fresh to Johnny Castle's character. He has plenty of swagger, charisma and pure dance flare that would definitely live up to Patrick Swayze's iconic character. He does a fantastic job but sometimes it was difficult to comprehend what he was trying to say, therefore it was difficult to be fully involved in the storyline. Lucky enough I know the story very well so I knew exactly what was happening and when. The most important element of Malou and O'Reilly's performance is their real chemistry with one another, especially in more intimate moments of the story. It was really convincing and they did a great job at bringing that spark to life from the moment it is first ignited. 

Playing Johnny's childhood friend Penny is Simone Covele and she definitely nails stage presence. She oozes sensuality, confidence, sassy and flexibility but as well as portraying the most vulnerable side to Penny's character. One of the stand out performances for me in Dirty Dancing came from Alex Wheeler and Sian Gentle-Green whose characters are just within the story but their characters and vocals truly stand out above the rest of the cast. I absolutely loved their rendition of Yes! and I know I wasn't the only person who loved it!

The film does take place in a number of locations which help us through the story. There has been some exceptional staging by Roberto Comotti that means we do not lose those scenes that are vital to the plot - some are intentionally and cleverly hilarious with a lot of projection too. All of the songs that are iconic in the film make the bill as well as an addition of some songs not generally associated with the soundtrack, but it worked. They have brought singers to the forefront of some of the more iconic songs but in fact made this musical more about telling the story through dance and the script, which is familiar to nearly all of the audience. 

The choreography has been created to perfection by Gillian Bruce who brings a variety of styles that don't lose touch with the era and film itself. The dancing skills of the cast are fantastic and they bring a lot of the story to life. The audience will barely be able to contain themselves by the closing sequence and you'll see many out of their seats. O'Reilly silences the audience as he storms through the audience to get Baby and take her out of her corner, the audience erupts and (I've Had) The Time Of My Life is a showstopper of a finale. You won't be able to resist dancing and singing along, and obviously, the best has been saved to last with this number. 

Dirty Dancing will always be the ultimate chick flick and now has become a musical fit for a girl's night out. It was a thrilling and fun night at the theatre. It hasn't missed the mark in bringing a much-loved movie to life but I still feel like there's something missing about it. I'd definitely recommend it for a fun night out at the theatre, even if it's just to see O'Reilly's incredible hips!

Dirty Dancing is in Birmingham at the Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 10th November and then tours the UK until July  2019. Tickets can be purchased here

*complimentary tickets in return for an honest review.


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