At an upmarket American holiday camp called Kellerman’s in the summer of 1963, Baby Houseman falls in love with the camp's working class dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze in the iconic 1987 film), whose climactic line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”, has since become a classic. It stars Josef Brown (from the original stage production in Australia) and Georgina Rich as Johnny and Baby.
Brown and Rich are joined in the London cast by David Rintoul as Baby’s father Dr Jake Houseman, Issy Van Randwyck as Baby’s mother Marjorie, Isabella Calthorpe as Baby’s sister Lisa and Nadia Coote (from the Australian production) as Penny.
Dirty Dancing has been adapted for the stage by the film’s screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, who based the story’s setting on her own childhood experiences of family holidays in America’s Catskill Mountains. In addition to recordings of period hits, the stage show includes hit songs from the film including “Hungry Eyes”, “She’s Like the Wind” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”. The stage production is directed by James Powell and designed by Stephen Brimson-Lewis, with choreography by Kate Champion and music direction by Chris Newton.
With such a recognisable title and already-unprecedented sales, Dirty Dancing is nigh on critic-proof. Nevertheless, the critics attended the first night along with a star-studded audience. While they largely enjoyed the spectacle of the dances and the complex and impressive scenery, most questioned why they didn’t stay at home with the DVD as the stage adaptation, they felt, added little to the film. So, while being drawn into the modern fairy tale-type story, critics didn’t quite have the time of their lives.
- by Caroline Ansdell