Review: Dirty Dancing at The Bristol Hippodrome

Posted on Jul 4 2017 - 11:57am by Samantha Clark

Seeing your favourite film on stage, you have high expectations. You want the iconic songs, the dances, the lines and more. It has to be as good if not better than the movie. It’s a major feat for a touring show to face. But this show does not disappoint.

Not only is it true to the film we all know and love- which for the most part you could mime along with word for word, also includes the composition of songs from the iconic soundtrack we’ve been addicted to since the original release (which some shows are not able to do because of licensing- namely Footloose and Sister Act). But in addition to all these bits we love, it includes a few additional and original songs as well as some developed character dimensions which helps piece some elements together.

What amazed me most was that literally no scene is left untouched. A touring performance like this often has limitations on what they’ll be able to deliver but each iconic moment is included; dancing on the log bridge, the lake scene, driving home from the performance at the Sheldrake and the final entourage dance sequence and lift. It’s done impeccably with clever use of screens and scenery that can create different areas of the resort and town; you completely lose yourself in it because rather than anticipate what’s coming next the cast is mesmerising and delivers.

I didn’t want it to end; I was truly having the time of my life. Having seen a version of the show before, I can say that I do not recall any detail from it, sometimes questioning that I’d seen it at all, except for the feeling that I was disappointed. But this incredible team and cast have put together the best version of the much loved movie on stage to date and is one that will be hard for anyone to forget.

Lewis Griffiths, as Johnny Castle, really is the star of the show and is completely captivating when on stage. The deep voiced, muscular, strong headed Patrick Swayze character we all swooned for in the movie is reincarnated. Katie Eccles, as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, is true to character also but adds an element of comedic value to her initial inability to dance- rather than seeing a mature girl, like in the movie, we see a girl becoming a woman in this show; the transition is more evident here. Michael Kent, as Billy Kostecki, and Sophie Mackay, as Elizabeth, deliver the powerful and incredible vocals of the most memorable songs with an astounding live band (Jo Servi, Michael Cuckson, Timothy Mylechreest and Thomas Sutcliffe) to support.

It’s an electric show that moves through you; the music reverberates through your veins, the cast energetic. It is a show loved by the audience with loud cheers and audible excitement. It really is a show for a good time.  But as a note of caution, I would say that some aspects are more raunchy and provocative than the movie version and contains some partial nudity (particularly in Act 2) – which although loved by the audience, I would not recommend for a young audience.

For the ‘Time of your life’ go and see Dirty Dancing at The Bristol Hippodrome (there until Saturday) before it heads off to Birmingham.

Photography by Alistair Muir

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