If you do nothing else this month go see Dirty Dancing at the New theatre, it is genuinely sublime. Quick paced choreography twinned with an emotionally charged narrative results in an unmissable performance, which is quite simply a pleasure to watch.
Set in the vibrant summer of the 1960’s Dirty Dancing tells the story of two lovers pulled apart by class, but brought together through a passion for dance, leading to the most challenging and eventful summer of their lives. The stage production featuring Jonny and Baby has been warming audience’s hearts from their 2004 debut in Australia. Since then, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, has become a worldwide phenomenon, with productions situated in South Africa, Hong Kong, Sweden, Singapore, France, Germany and many more.
Starring actors Michael O’Reilly as Jonny Castle and Kira Malou playing Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman, gave standout performances where their on stage chemistry was undeniable, creating a sexually charged atmosphere so convincing it almost made me uncomfortable to view. As a long-time fan of the film I was concerned that my constant comparison between the two would make the musical fall short, however it has to be said the pairs performance certainly rivalled even that of Swayze and Grey. O’Reilly’s dancing was outstanding, slick and professional with not a foot out of place from what I could see, his performance upstaged only by Simone Cavelle who played coat hanger abortion victim Penny Johnson.
I have never seen live dancing so dynamic and expressive as what I saw produced by Cavelle, her fluid movements and ridiculously long legs owned the stage in ways I can not fathom to put into words. The high-spirited choreography paired with much loved Dirty Dancing soundtrack made me almost emotional I shan’t lie; it was one of those events which are truly enjoyable to witness; brought to an explosive climax in the final infamous lift.
Featured artists such as The Chantels, The Drifters and Marvin Gaye complimented the atmospheric set design and expressive lighting that oozed 1960’s vibes. The slick transitions between the scenes incorporating the usage of tonal lighting change and moving set pieces, intelligently progressed the narrative in a subtle manner, making viewing visually intriguing for the audience. Speaking of the audience, it was clear there were many existing Dirty Dancing fans who applauded at every opportunity. It has to be said Jonny’s reveal of his bare bum cheeks received a particularly warm reception too.
If you’re not into cheesy dialogue with equally cheesy costumes, then perhaps this is not the musical for you, however the cheese had a certain charm for me as well as the whole audience. As you can probably guess I highly recommend Dirty Dancing, the show is in Cardiff until Saturday the 8tht of June and honestly you’d be a fool to miss it.