5/16/2019

Dirty Dancing at the Liverpool Empire* | Just Add Ginger


AD // Gifted

There's definitely one thing I really struggle with when it comes to being a parent and that is making time for myself. I find it really tricky. Partly because there are always a million and one other things that need doing and partly because I don't want to miss out on family time. 

flat lay image for playbill for dirty dancing - the classic story on stage with two pink flowers framing the programme


But when SeatPlan reached out and asked me if I wanted a pair of tickets for a show at the Liverpool Empire - well - the opportunity for a very rare night out sans husband and child sounded too good to refuse. So, with one of my friends in tow, on Monday evening we headed out to the city centre to watch Dirty Dancing.

Dirty Dancing is one of those films that is up there on my list of all-time favourites. From the music to the dancing to the absolute dreamboat that is Patrick Swayze all in all I must have seen it about a hundred times if not more. And with being so in love with the film I was really keen to see how it translated to the stage. Would it do Johnny and Baby justice? Or would I be left sitting there unable to separate the stage show from the film? 

official production photography for Dirty Dancing
Image: Alistair Muir // c/o Dirty Dancing Tour - The Classic Story On Stage

The minute we stepped into the theatre you could tell everybody was buzzing for the show. Everyone seemed so excited for it to start and were chatting and laughing animatedly amongst themselves. And as the opening music started and the whoops and cheers from us all came right on cue. 

I don't quite know what I was expecting from the show but it was completely captivating. From the seamless set changes to the music to the choreography it was almost like you had been sucked into the film. There were a little differences between the film and the stage production but all in all the story we all know and love so much was exactly the same. 

I'm going to be completely honest - because some of the set changes were really swift I did find myself getting a bit confused as to what was going on. But looking back I can appreciate the decision to do this. With the stage having modular props and sets the show ran really smoothly, drawing your eye from scene to scene with the same smooth transition that emulates the way you watch it on screen. 

official production photography for Dirty Dancing
Image: Alistair Muir // c/o Dirty Dancing Tour - The Classic Story On Stage
But now to the part that I'm sure most of you are reading this review for. Did the stage show live up to the film? In a nutshell yes and no. 

The main reason being that I don't think you could ever really fill Patrick Swayze's shoes. He is synonymous with Johnny Castle. Nobody could really portray the character in the same way. And the same with Jennifer Grey. The film and the characters are just too iconic. 

However what the production did do is portray the story in a new way. A fresh way. And if you can see the two as separate entities then you will love the production just as much as the movie. From the inclusion of a live band on stage to Kira Malou's charming and comic portrayal of Baby to the injection of humour in some of the staging it is a really fun show to watch. 

And the dancing ... oh my god the dancing. It was just sensational. Especially that of Simone Covele who plays Penny. The chemistry between her and Michael O'Reilly (Castle) as dance partners was incredible.

Dirty Dancing is a show that is sensual and sexy, seducing you with every song and dance number and drawing you into the story of Johnny and Baby. If you're a fan of the film you will find yourself joining in with those iconic lines ( 'I carried a watermelon' and 'Nobody puts Baby in the corner' got the best reception). And those who are new to the story will get swept away by the production. 

The show is still touring in the UK so if you'd like to catch it, head to SeatPlan to nab tickets while you can. But if the show isn't for you then there are lots more for upcoming shows available across the country (Les Mis is coming to Liverpool in the autumn and you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to be twisting Ryan's arm to taken me to see it)!

Imagery: Alistair Muir - c/o  Dirty Dancing Tour - The Classic Story On Stage

* I was very kindly gifted a pair of tickets by SeatPlan to review in exchange for this post. This does not affect my opinions. For more information, please see my disclaimer

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