Review: Stage show is enjoyable, but doesn't quite match the iconic film
Like many people, the famous film is a firm favourite of mine, so I went to the show with reservations, and left with the thought, that the film is just too iconic to be bettered by a stage show. That said, it was clear from the reaction of some of the audience that as a standalone production, especially if you have no prior knowledge of the film, it is an entertaining show.
The show opens with an exciting dance scene which had me thinking that we were in for a treat and overall, the choreography was excellent, but for me, that was the best thing about the entire production. Simone Covele as Penny stood out, a wonderful dancer.
As Baby, Kira Malou played her as more awkward than her film counterpart to comic effect, but while Michael O'Reilly as Johnny was a great dancer with a handsome physique, which he displayed fairly often, his American accent left a lot to be desired! That said, he deserves due credit for stepping into those proverbial 'big shoes' on his professional début.
There is a strong supporting cast of actors and talented dancers, and singers Sian Gentle-Green (Elizabeth) and Alex Wheeler as Billy deserve a mention for covering the main musical numbers, but it seemed that the show lacked something and it wasn't until Act 2 that it began to gel with the audience.
The 'log' and the 'lift in the lake' scenes were dealt with by bringing down a screen onto which the background was projected and the actors performed behind the screen as if they were on the log or in the lake. The former scene was fine and seemed to work well but the lake scene caused a lot of laughter in the audience because it just couldn't be taken seriously.
Aside from a couple of additional scenes, the script more or less follows the film dialogue word for word, with the biggest audience cheer, of course, being for "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
It wasn't one of the best shows that I've seen at New Wimbledon Theatre and I freely admit that my love for Patrick Swayze and the film undoubtedly influenced my opinion but it was great to hear the music so it was nevertheless an enjoyable evening.
By Anne Horsburgh
Dirty Dancing runs at New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday (November 24)
November 21, 2018