An Evening of Dirty Dancing

1006038_10151568379692654_1680784774_nAn Evening of Dirty Dancing was at The Grand Theatre on Sunday 28 July and I have never been more delighted than when I learned I could cover this review.  Let’s face it, EVERY girl has wanted to be Baby at some point in their lives and I remember spending so many years desperately wanting to know what happened in those taboo parts of the story that my mum used to fast forward.  This movie introduced bad boys who can dance and with that, won its place in every woman’s heart for generations.

As the lights dimmed and the curtains rose, chairs creaked as women leant forwards, eagerly awaiting their first glimpse of the guys and girls who’d bring the music of Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman’s love alive.

Whilst showing an amazingly skilled array of talent as well as gorgeous vocals, especially from Aimie Atkinson and Matt Firth, the first half was just slightly disappointing.  Songs and routines were preppy, perky and a lot of fun.  She’s Like the Wind conveyed grace and elegance but there was about as much dirt in the dancing as you’d find in the apartment of someone with an obsessive cleaning disorder.  We had a pleasant time singing along, and were given a bit of dance tuition in the process, but the underlying feeling and themes from the movie did not translate.  Speaking to some audience members during the interval, there was a general consensus that this was a really great dance show and everyone was enjoying themselves, but it wasn’t really Dirty Dancing.

However, that’s all I’m going to say about the first half, because frankly, the second half changed EVERYTHING!  I was delightedly caught off guard and the sudden increase in the hormone levels of most of the women in the audience blew the roof off.

All of a sudden, the squeaky clean 60’s rally turned into a heated and passionate extravaganza.  The cute coupling of Atkinson and Firth as the romantic vocalists became much more prominent, supported well by the rest of the company and Sophie Ayers smouldered through her solos.  But it was the appearance of dance pairing Laura Ellis and  Joe Murphy that saw one woman in the circle, well into her late 70’s, drop her stick to wolf whistle – with good cause!  The rough and ready, heated routine was one of the strongest pieces of choreography throughout the show and they had a stunning chemistry.  Between the two couples, Atkinson and Firth then Ellis and Murphy, all of the tensions, romance and passion from our favourite movie came alive.  I was slightly concerned about how our stick-wielding friend was faring as Murphy returned to the stage for a similar number with a Magic Mike-esque swagger and minus a shirt, however she looked extremely delighted and no ambulance was required!

My guilty pleasure and personal favourite part of the evening was the rendition of La Bamba!  Due to my spot in the circle and the performer’s wide brimmed hat, I can’t tell you which one of them performed this number but he was utterly fabulous.  It was one of the best choreographed comedic routines I have seen in a while and the audience howled as our red clad señor left the stage to dance with some of the ladies in the stalls.  He bowed out and the circle was still shaking from applause whilst most were wiping their eyes.

With a firework laden Finale showcasing that lift, the audience were beside themselves cheering and clapping.  Indeed the evening finished in ‘grand’ Blackpool tradition with dancing, singing and cheering.  Let’s face it, Blackpool loves a good party and that’s exactly how the show concluded.

All in all I loved the show.  I’d love to go and see it again and it is a shame that they have left Blackpool for now.  The tour continues, however, until November so if you’d like to catch them elsewhere, check out www.aneveningofdirtydancing.com for dates and locations.

Stage Acts Entertainments are an extremely new production company who are sure to develop further and after tonight’s show, I’ll be keeping an eye out for them because if this is what they can put together after three years in existence, it can only get better from here!


Featured image Copyright © 2011 Stage Acts Entertainment LTD

Inset image copyright Lisa Bower.

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