It is one of the most adored and iconic films of the last few decades, so it’s little surprise there was a desire to bring Dirty Dancing to the stage.
But with that came a mountain of expectation. Would the theatre production live up to the magic of the 1987 classic movie, with its blood-pumping dance scenes and jaw-dropping finale?
The answer, quite simply, is yes.
From the moment the curtain rises, the audience is immersed in Kellerman’s – a world of desire, defiance and of course, dirty dancing.
The cast, who all bear striking resemblances to their on-screen counterparts, bring the stage to life from the first musical beat, with bright costumes and even brighter smiles. Their enthusiasm is contagious and spectators are swept up in the joy and romance of the summer of 1963.
The show reels through the movie’s scenes swiftly and succinctly, with smooth set transitions and slick costume changes.
But nothing ever feels like it’s being missed out – the famous lines about carrying watermelons and not putting Baby in a corner are all still present, and delivered to a cheer from the fans in the crowd.
And those iconic scenes – the ones we can recite word for word and play out in our minds with great precision – all remain, including Baby and Johnny’s ‘Hungry Eyes’ performance, spaghetti arms, and practising the log lift in the lake (which was done using a projection screen and some great innovation).
From start to finish, the dancing was elaborate and mesmerising. The twists and turns of the Cha Cha and the Mambo spread across the stage and more often than not, spectators arFe spoilt for choice over where to lay their eyes.
The two leads – Michael O’Reilly and Kira Malou playing Johnny Castle and Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman’ respectively – deliver a faultless acting performance, complete with chemistry and camaraderie. And they are backed up by a superb and entertaining cast – from innocent cousin Billy and vibrant sister Lisa, to troubled dancer Penny and eccentric OAP Mr. Schumacher, everyone plays their part in what is a truly fantastic production.
And the highlight – the undoubtable highlight – is the show finale, that moment at the end that everyone has been waiting for. The lift.
Would they be able to pull it off? The excitement and anticipation in the theatre is tangible as the duo dance their final number. Everyone knows what’s coming. Everybody knows what’s supposed to happen. But nobody knows what will happen, such is the nature of a live show.
And then, thankfully, when the lift is pulled off in a triumphant fashion, the audience erupts in a mixture of relief and elation. The whooping and cheering continues long after the lift is over – the audience is buzzing, they know they have been part of a special moment.
For a production with so much to live up to, there was always a fear of it failing to live up to expectations. But, it did not disappoint.
It’s easy to see why this show – the same show that enjoyed three blockbuster West End runs and multiple sell-out UK tours – has broken box office records. It promises to give audiences a night to remember or, some may say, the time of their life.
Dirty Dancing will be at the White Rock Theatre until Saturday, October 27. For more information or to book tickets, visit https://whiterocktheatre.org.uk/Online/tickets-dirty-dancing-hastings-2018.