Coventry lift pic 

Dirty Dancing

Belgrade Theatre Coventry


IT IS not often you get MORE than you’re expecting out of a live show but Dirty Dancing delivers and a half!

I was wondering two things as I arrived at the theatre: how were they going to do the scene of learning to do the lifts in the water and what would people who hadn’t seen the film make of it?

The scene in the water was amazing and even though I saw it I’m still not sure. As for people who hadn’t seen the film it was bigger and better than I remember. It is one of those films that I wish I’d never seen so I can see it again for the first time. Seeing it on the stage was akin to that.

The story is great, boy meets girl, etc. A ‘coming-of-age’ script set in August 1963 as Martin Luther King had a dream, JFK was setting up the Peace Corps and ‘Baby’ Houseman (Katie Hartland) and her sister Lisa (Lizzie Ottley) and parents Jake (Julian Harries) and Marjorie (Simone Craddock) arrive at Kellerman’s, based on real-life Grossinger’s Hotel in New York state where the writer holidayed as a child.

Max Kellerman (Roger Martin), grandson Neil (Greg Fossard) welcome families to a holiday of activities and dancing with coaches including dance partners Penny (Carlie Milner) and Johnny Castle (Lewis Griffiths).

Penny’s ‘condition’ mean that Baby and Johnny have just three weeks to learn an exhibition dance for a neighbouring hotel. Unlike the film, Baby plays this for laughs. The dance scene on the log and in the water are amazing, and teeming rain, still has me foxed. Music was excellent (with a live band on stage throughout) and more songs included as the writer couldn’t get permission to use the extra songs which, now the film is a runaway success, has been easier.

But, The Time of my Life is still a winner (and that dance and that amazing lift) – and the line ‘No one puts Baby in the corner’ caused an eruption of applause from the audience – not the only time by far!

A word for the set, everything moved in every direction and it’s a wonder of the world. Even the programme – a brochure – is larger than life. Did I enjoy it? Please can I go again tonight and tomorrow…?

Directed by Federico Bellone the dancing goes on to 04-02-17

Jane Howard


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