Last night, I spent a few hours in heaven watching the Dirty Dancing Uk Tour at the Palace Theatre Manchester. When your all-time favourite movie is adapted into a stage production, there’s a sense of uncertainty as to whether you’ll love it.
And that movie is Dirty Dancing, which you eagerly tune in to whenever it’s on TV. You’ve seen it countless times, to the point where you know every line by heart. It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit, but it’s undeniably true.
The first time I saw that film is etched in my mind. I was fifteen, and it happened to be the day before it was released on video. It was awesome being a teenager, with the world eagerly anticipating the premiere of a movie that would stay in the hearts of a generation forever.
Review, Dirty Dancing UK Tour, 2023, The Palace Theatre Manchester.
A Little About Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing is a renowned film that holds a special place in cinematic history. Released in 1987, it quickly became a cultural phenomenon and remains an iconic piece of pop culture.
The film was directed by Emile Ardolino and written by Eleanor Bergstein. Bergstein drew inspiration from her experiences as a young dancer in the Catskill resorts during the 1960s, infusing the story with authenticity and nostalgia.
Dirty Dancing achieved critical acclaim and remarkable financial success, grossing more than $264 million globally, and was one of the highest-grossing films of 1987 despite being made on a modest budget of $5 million.
The film received recognition from the Academy Awards. Plus seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay categories. Notably, it won Best Original Song with “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” a powerful track performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.
The first Dirty Dancing stage show premiered in 2004. The show debuted in Sydney, Australia, at the Theatre Royal and was produced by Jacobsen Entertainment in association with Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions.
What is Dirty Dancing About?
Dirty Dancing is set in the summer of 1963 and tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman (Kira Malou). Baby is a young woman from an affluent family who spends her summer vacation at Kellerman’s. There, after a chance encounter with Penny (Georgia Aspinall), a dancer at Kellerman’s, she offers to help out and dance at a neighbouring hotel, the Sheldrake, with Penny’s dance partner Johnny Castle (Michael O” Reilly).
She quickly falls in love with the resort’s charismatic dance instructor. The film follows their journey as they navigate social barriers, challenge societal expectations, and ultimately fall in love through the power of dance.
My Review of Dirty Dancing
This is the 3rd time I have seen the show, but this version has been changed slightly for the better. Theatregoers will arrive expecting a similar experience to the movie. However, the Dirty Dancing stage show differs from the film, the differences are subtle, but they are there. It works beautifully to give the show credibility. It explains issues younger theatregoers may not understand, things that made total sense 36 years ago—plus weaving in a slight comedy element into the story you don’t see in the movie.
The Dirty Dancing UK tour remains true to its original roots. Creating the feel of the movie that not all stage productions can re-create, from the genuinely spectacular dancing to the perfect casting of the characters.
The log scene was delivered and allowed you to visualise the scene. But in a tongue-in-cheek way, thus enabling you to forgive the odd continuity flaw, such as Baby’s hair not getting wet in the lake. Rather than trying to disguise that fact, the scene had people laughing along as Baby and Johnny dived in and out of the water, which added to the enjoyment of the scene, rather than detracting from the moment.
The Cast Were Outstanding
As soon as you set eyes on Baby (Kira Malou), you believe her; she plays the part perfectly. Johnny (Michael O’Reilly) played a wonderful Johnny; he had enormous shoes to fill. And fill them he did, with style and incredible talent.
Georgia Aspinall was the perfect Penny, demonstrating dance moves that took your breath away. As did every character, within 10 minutes, I was in the moment and loved every scene. Colin Charles’ Tito was also fantastic. He is warm and talented; as a much-loved movie character, I am glad his part was extended and embellished.
The hair and wardrobe were so accurate, with incredible attention to detail, and when recreating a much-loved story like this, that matters.
Would I Recommend Dirty Dancing?
As a die-hard fan of the movie, this could have gone either way, but it was outstanding; the way the cast recreated such a timeless masterpiece is a testament to their talent, skill and energy. They brought Dirty Dancing to Manchester and did it in style. The standing ovation and audience reaction said it all.
Where can I see the Dirty Dancing UK Tour?
Dirty Dancing is playing at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until Sat 3 Jun 2023, with tickets from £14.40.
And then on tour at the following locations.
- Liverpool Empire, Tue 13 Jun – Sat 17 Jun 2023
- Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, Tue 4 Jul – Sat 8 Jul 2023
- The Alexandra, Birmingham, Tue 18 Jul – Sat 22 Jul 2023
- New Theatre Oxford, Tue 25 Jul – Sat 29 Jul 2023
- King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 24 Oct – Sat 28 Oct 2023
Please note I was gifted these tickets in return for an honest review. However, you can’t argue with a couple of hours of pure joy.