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Review: Dirty Dancing at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle

The musical stage show based on the classic coming of age movie sets up camp on Tyneside

****
Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing

I defy anyone to leave this show without a smile on their face and a spring in their step – the infectious beat of the summer of ’63 at Kellerman’s holiday camp is catching.

Bringing the smash hit charm of the silver screen classic to the stage, the cast of Dirty Dancing succeeded in transforming even the most sceptical audience member into a lifelong convert to this story of first love, told through the medium of dance.

Breath-taking choreography and exceptional casting make this production a must see. And let’s not forget the soundtrack.

From the first notes of ‘Be My Baby’ to the spectacular finale everyone was waiting for with ‘(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life’ – it had us hooked.

You might say Roseanna Frascona was born to play the role of 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. Displaying an uncanny resemblance to Jennifer Grey, her portrayal of Baby hits just the right balance of innocence, curiosity and top drawer dance moves in this coming-of-age tale.

Meanwhile playing the role of Patrick Swayze’s character Johnny Castle is Gareth Bailey, who has mastered the swagger Swayze brought to the movie role.

He really comes into his own in the second half, getting the audience at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal cheering and whooping as he storms back in to deliver that key line - ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’.

The production is a feel-good ride from start to finish, drawing the audience in and making them feel part of the musical, with many singing along and even shouting out lines.

You could not leave the theatre without giving a special round of applause for the humorous element brought to the stage by Jessie-Lou Yates as Lisa Houseman – her disastrous Hula song could have brought the house down - as well as Alexander Wolfe as Neil Kellerman.

His portrayal of the resort owner’s grandson was perfectly on point, bringing a giggle to even the sternest face.

As the final hip-swivelling moves are made, the buzz from the audience – which is mainly female - speaks for itself. This show is an empowering, romantic tale which will stand the test of time for decades to come.

Sarah Scott

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