WITH some of the raunchiest scenes and most raucous of audiences you will see, this stage version of hit film Dirty Dancing was full of feelgood fun.
It started with what appeared a very minimalist set and a few dancers on the stage but both built up nicely with pace and intensity as the show progressed.
In case you have not seen the film, it centres on self-assured dance teacher Johnny Castle and somewhat shy and innocent Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman who effectively have a holiday romance set to a backdrop of a hotel, bar and beaches.
But it is much more than that – briefly exploring social issues of the time and the classic ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.
All that came through well via the two main characters – both Michael O’Reilly who took centre stage as Johnny and Kira who played ‘Baby’ gave excellent portrayals. Their interaction illustrated brilliantly the opposite traits – Johnny’s insecurities and Baby’s confidence which are the catalyst for the journeys they embark on during this 1960s summer.
While the spotlight spent a lot of time on those two, their performances would not have been possible without the solid supporting cast – born performer Tito Suarez (Colin Charles) and boss Neil Kellerman (Thomas Sutcliffe) to Baby’s family and the numerous other quirky characters.
Obviously with a show like this, the choreography has to be faultless (there were not many dance-free minutes on stage) and it was.
As well as the well-worked routines, the band and ensemble have to be given a mention for the music and atmosphere they created.
And there were plenty of comedic moments too – Johnny teaching Baby to dance (the scene in the sea is very cleverly done), the occasional one liner and even through the songs – Lisa’s Hula – performed perfectly by Lizzie Ottley was the pick of the latter.
That also kickstarted three of the vocal performances of the evening – followed by Yes (Amber Sylvia Edwards) and In The Still Of The Night (Samuel Bailey).
After a raunchy hook concluding the first half (the ice cream was welcome in the interval to cool us all down), Charles started the second half in a lively manner with Love Man which had whoops, cheers and screams from some very excitable women in the audience.
O’Reilly getting his top off in the first half was greeted with a very similar reaction and the raunchiness seemed to turn the crowd back into tittering teenagers.
The man next to us asked his wife at one point: ‘Is this a strip show we’re watching?’ and you could see what he meant.
And, while it was disappointing the auditorium was only two thirds capacity, the cheer which erupted when it came to ‘that line’ before breaking into the (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life finale, you would have thought the theatre was three times full.
The standing ovation at the curtain call was very well deserved and the music and clapping continued after that until one very final bow.
From the performers’ waves to the smiles beaming on the faces of those watching, it was clear the cast, band and crowd had, indeed, had the time of their lives.
Dirty Dancing runs at the Alexandra Theatre until Saturday, October 16.
The show is suitable for those aged 12 and over.
Performances are at 7.30pm Wednesday and Thursday, October 13 and 14, and at 5pm and 8.30pm on Friday (October 15) and 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday.
For tickets, click here.