REVIEW: Dirty Dancing, Opera House, Blackpool

Lewis Griffiths as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Show On Stage
Lewis Griffiths as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Show On Stage

Thirty years ago, a budget movie sent Patrick Swayze into superstardom.

Dirty Dancing was made for just $5m and recouped double that within 10 days - to date netting $214m-plus.

Katie Eccles and Lewis Griffiths as Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing

Katie Eccles and Lewis Griffiths as Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing

And from the reaction at Blackpool Opera House, the appeal is still there.

Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage does what it says on the tin. All the favourite scenes from the movie are there: Baby and the watermelon, Johnny and Baby’s dance classes, sister Lisa’s hula dance, and more.

There’s the familiar sub-plot of dancer Penny’s abortion, and an interesting addition of the simmering civil rights movement.

The ever-popular soundtrack plays out, with the Kellerman's resort band providing the backing music to all the magical moments from the film.

Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage

Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story On Stage

Lewis Griffiths is jaw-droppingly handsome in Swayze’s role as dance teacher Johnny Castle. He isn’t afraid to make the role his own - while paying strong tribute to the key scenes, sometimes with sincerity, others tongue firmly placed in cheek. Could this role send his career in the same direction as Swayze’s?

Katie Eccles as the innocent-yet-idealistic Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is more at ease with the goofy side of our heroine as she learns not only to dance but to love, but struggles to draw the audience into her emotional journey.

A smart set allows the action to move at a cinematic pace, with some simple effects used for more of those special scenes - learning ‘the’ lift in the lake is both nifty and naff at the same time, and gets away with it.

The show does lack some of the depth and rawness of original, but it’s easy enough to be swept up in the excitement once the dancers take to the stage. The choreography is breath-taking, with hips grinding and legs flying all over the place in a display of athelticism and grace.

And by the time Johnny struts through the Opera House auditorium to pull Baby out of the corner and dance with her one last time, any misgivings are forgotten and every woman in the place wants to be that girl being swept up into his arms. We can but dream.

* Until Saturday