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Dirty Dancing (Tour - Liverpool)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Having cleaned up as a film, like many others, this has been adapted for the stage: a musical with a heart AND a plot – which everybody knows, surely? Interesting that when bad boy meets good little girl (think Grease, Michael Hutchence and Kylie), we are more intrigued by her converting him than blossoming, shall we say, through knowing him.

The staging has scenery which veers from the splendours of the Great Outdoors to the intimate bed room (‘very saucy’ I overheard), but the somewhat patchworked story wanders about, heavy on coincidence, light on explanation (Robbie? What Robbie?) and skimming over the tricky bits, strands set up that led nowhere. But perhaps it's churlish to comment on the orchestra drowning out dialogue when the audience are doing the same.

Ah yes, the audience – never seen anything like it: gladiatorial comes to mind, or Singalongasomethingorother; I am informed the X Factor should be taken into account; raising the roof and rooting for the underdog: the squeakiest of pipsqueaks, Mr Kellerman’s heir, Neil (Stefan Menaul) and Emilia Williams as sister Lisa’s showstopping hulahula girl turn.

 As for Paul-Michael Jones, they were as ecstatic as if Patrick Swayze had been reincarnated except, superb dancer tho he is, the acting did not quite match up; he seems years older than Baby, and miles apart from her. But give Jill Winternitz her due (and her attractively husky voice), she does excellently, growing up before our eyes, going from amateur to professional with her dance skills.

Nostalgia has a greater part to play than actual history or issues (many a nod, or rather, a glance: racism; sexism; politics), and iconic films too I guess. It all adds up to quite an extraordinary experience.

- Carole Baldock


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