Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Review: Dirty Dancing (UK Tour) at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Dirty Dancing (UK Tour)
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 19th September 2016

Following two West End runs and two UK tours, Dirty Dancing is back on the road. The latest tour sees a new creative team at the helm; the new look production was first staged in Milan last summer. Based on the 1987 film, Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle's love story continues to win over the hearts of audiences in 2016.

Whilst Dirty Dancing may be a guilty pleasure, the lack of creativity in the stage production frustrates me. The film is essentially recreated onstage, complete with its soundtrack. Of course fans enjoy the chance to relive some of the film they love, but complications arise which prevents the show from being as slick as it could be. The quick, cinematic scene structure means there are constant scene changes which become clunky.

The moment which frustrates me most is the scene where Johnny and Baby practice the lift in the water - the desperate attempt to recreate the film makes it look tacky, and audience members were laughing because it looked so ridiculous. Overall the new design looks nice, despite being a little flimsy. 

The new cast for the tour are particularly strong. Katie Hartland carries the show as Baby Houseman; her performance is charismatic as she successfully portrays the growth in Baby's confidence and ability. There's something very alluring about Hartland's stage presence, it's so refreshing to see someone excel in this role - she is a superb actress.

Lewis Griffiths quite simply is Johnny Castle - never has casting been so perfect. As well as being an impeccable dancer, Griffiths oozes with effortless charm. The supporting cast are equally as strong; Julian Harries is endearing as Jake Houseman, Jo Servi shows off some fantastic vocals as Tito Suarez and understudy Simon Campbell impressed as Billy. Elsewhere Lizzie Ottley gives a terrific comedic performance as Lisa Houseman, performing opposite Robert Colvin who stands out throughout as Robbie.

There's no denying that Dirty Dancing is a lot of fun - the Monday night Aylesbury audience certainly were having the times of their lives, whooping and cheering the night away. All the classic lines and moments get a huge response, leading to the all-important iconic lift which Griffiths and Hartland pulled off superbly. 

It's nice to see Dirty Dancing with a fresh lease of life; people are never going to grow tired of this show, it could easily tour for ever and ever.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Dirty Dancing runs at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until 24th September 2016 and is booking to September 2017. Please visit for further information, full tour dates and tickets.

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir

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