Dirty Dancing has stood the test of time and proven itself to be one of those stories that never gets old. Sure, it was partly the undeniable chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze that got us all a bit giggly (have you seen their screentest??) but with any cast it ticks a lot of boxes. There’s simply a raft of themes that so many of us connect with – it’s just too easy to like! Coming of age. First love. Secrets, betrayal and confessions. Accusation and exoneration. It’s all there.
“Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage” teeters on the edge of being a full-blown musical but doesn’t bill itself as such, as it doesn’t require lead cast members to sing solos. The Australian cast is cohesive and well balanced, putting out a good amount of quality sound whilst visually impressing with their sharp dance moves. Kirby Burgess and Kurt Phelan inhabit the central roles beautifully and have a very believable connection.
Although we don’t see them as much as you’d think in modern shows, digital sets are definitely the way of the future. How could they not be? The Princess Theatre is well equipped for this new technology and the results are a lot of fun. Dirty Dancing uses an impressive set of projections & screens combined with automated modular sets to give ‘screensaver’ backdrops for interior and exterior scenes. Transitions are slick and the quality of images provide symbolism rather than distracting detail, which feels appropriate for their purpose. One highlight was the use of footlights to show the torsos of Baby and Johnny ‘in the water’ which was projected over a scrim in front of them. The sounds of the splashes were carefully timed to their (larger than life) faux-swimming moves and successfully earned appreciative laughs from the crowd.
At the end of the day, the audience are there for the iconic moments and lines from the movie. THE ‘the lift’ at the end of the show is seriously enough to choke you up, especially knowing that it *could* theoretically require a ‘Take 2’ on any given live performance! The moment that the pair know they’ve nailed it is exhilarating… and the energy from the whooping and cheering audience is flat-out contagious.
It would be next to impossible to leave this show without a big smile on your face, assuming you basically knew what you were heading in to in the first place! If you’ve managed to get through life without ever managing to see the original movie I’d certainly recommend that you view that before seeing the stage show, but only so you can get the context of why it is such a lasting cultural phenomenon. This production “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage” has wowed audiences and is deserving of it’s success in it’s own right.
If you haven’t had the chance or weren’t sure if the Dirty Dancing stage show was for you, trust me – if you liked the movie, you will love this show! Another one of Melbourne’s cultural successes, much like the theatre it’s playing in. Oh, and if you do go and see it (which you really should) I’d thank you for wearing pants – hot pink ones, specifically! 😉
Talk to you soon!
“Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage” is playing at The Princess Theatre in Melbourne until 14/5/2015 before moving on to Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.