Nottingham Theatre Royal.
I saw this last a couple of years ago and, to tell the truth, didn't warm to it back then, maybe because I was comparing it to the iconic film. So I didn't raise my hopes that high for this production. Oh how my opinions were changed!!
This production is smoking HOT! It so hot for so many reasons as well. The dancing was scorching hot, and with three choreographers on board to hone the different dance styles every move, every step was scorching into the stage. Some amazing split drags and the finale table lift was executed with such ease it was if "Baby" was on wires. The female dancers left the males in the audience with their tongues out and the male dancers raised the temperatures for the ladies watching as well. The dances ranged from mambo, to ballroom to down right dirty bump n grind and I loved every single move.
The costumes too were fantastic. Suits for the elder males, the tightest of vests and T shirts for the younger men. Well being set in 1963, this would be the fashion of the day. The ladies had their wonderfully complicated layered dresses as well as some thigh high split long dresses for ultimate glamour, and let's face it, without the split dresses, they would have had a bit of trouble making those incredible moves.
We all know the story of Dr Houseman and his family on Summer vacation to Kellerman's holiday park and apart from the games laid on for the holiday makers, so were dancing lessons which is where the ridiculously handsome Johnny Castle comes in. Frances "Baby" Houseman falls for the dance teacher when she steps in to take the place of Penny when she discovers that Penny has fallen pregnant with a work colleague's baby. This has to be resolved by arranging an abortion so that Penny does not lose her job as principle dancer with Johnny, Johnny teaches Frances everything she needs to know about dancing and a few things away from the dance floor as well. Dr Houseman isn't happy that Baby has lied to him about what had been going on but when he discovers the real truth, he gives both Johnny and Baby his blessing to go steady.Culminating of course with that famous line "nobody puts baby in the corner" before they go into that infamous dance routine.
Setting the women aflame with his swivel hip moves, good looks and ripped torso is Lewis Kirk. An excellent dancer who oozed sex appeal but also managed to come across as a caring human being, looking out for Penny and taking the blame for the accusations levelled at him for what happened to her.
"Baby" is played by Jessie Hart. A lovely transformation with her character from the little rag doll being tossed around by Johnny to start with, to a wonderfully sexy dancer by the end.
Talking of sexy dancers, Penny is played by Claire Rogers. What an amazing set of pins she has and you can really tell that her background in ballet honed that flexible gorgeous body of hers to a dancing machine. Great light and shade with the acting from fiery mambo dancer to her scenes about the unwanted pregnancy and her interaction with Johnny as well as Dr Houseman and his wife.
Other stand out performances from James Coombes as Dr Houseman and Kane Verrall as Neil Kellerman, who at times reminded me of the "Happy Days" character, Richie Cunningham with his geekiness, a wonderful character driven role for Kane. The whole cast worked so hard and were all brilliant in this whirlwind of teenage lust driven dance drama.
Great songs throughout which included "Time Of My Life" which brought a rapturous round of applause because we knew what was coming from Baby and Johnny.
A live band situated on stage, or I should say above the stage level, created a rich sound which complemented the vocalists perfectly. Clever cinematic video and projection design by Jon Driscoll transported us swiftly from the various locations including the lake scenes where Johnny and Baby practised the table lift.
Basically this is a show that you will not want to miss on many levels, whether it be for the amazing dance routines, the story or for the basic sex appeal of the very appealing actors on stage, you will leave that theatre wanting to dance like them. You'll want to be Johnny Castle if you're a man and if you're a woman you'll want to look for your own Johnny Castle after your visit.
"Dirty Dancing" is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 13 June 2015. Go and have the time of your life.