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Dirty Dancing @ The Regent Theatre, Hanley

Transported back to the Kellermans holiday resort at the start of the 1960s the audience enjoyed the company of Johnny, Baby and the Houseman family as Dirty Dancing arrived at The Regent Theatre, Hanley.

Playing to a packed – and enthusiastic – crowd on its first night, it is probably fair to say that pretty much all of the audience were on familiar terms with the iconic film that the stage show is based on. And to the delight of fans it replicates that closely.

Packed with singing, dancing, and acting the show draws together the best aspects of live musical theatre into one non-stop performance. Michael O’ Reilly brings the energy and vitality of the original character to the stage as Johnny, dominating the stage with his awe-inspiring dancing featuring all the famous moves – and he looks the part. His appearance drawing a noisy reception from the largely female audience.

Kira Malou is just as impressive as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, bearing more than a fleeting resemblance to the main character, and playing the role of Baby excellently from slightly awkward do-gooder to dance sensation. The chemistry between the two is clear to see and gives the performance an added edge.

The story follows the Houseman holiday and their interactions with the staff at the resort – and the events that lead Baby and Johnny to fall in love as she agrees to cover for his dance partner at a performance. Ultimately learning that ‘no-one puts baby in a corner’.

There is even the watermelon scene, with the versatile Danny Colligan playing the loveable Billy Kostecki and delivering a stand-out vocal performance. The Housemans are well played by Jake Loy as Dr Jake Houseman and Taryn Sudding as Marjorie Houseman. Just as in the film, older sister Lisa is a comical character with a terrible line in entertainment – played for laughs by Daisy Steere.

A lot of the musical entertainment came from the mesmerizingly talented Colin Charles as Tito Suarez – an impressive singer and dancer as happy to take centre stage as he was to provide the background music.

And, of course, there is Penny Johnson, the staggeringly good dance partner of Johnny.

Played by Georgia Aspinall. Her stage presence and ability were incredible, with the dance scenes with Johnny a major part of the appeal of the show – just like in the film. This technical ability was matched by a likeability and vulnerability that underpin her role in the wider story.

Dirty Dancing is a timeless classic for a good reason – it’s fun, serious, romantic and nostalgic all at the same time. The music is incredible and really sets the scene – and while it is often a backdrop to the dancing in the stage show it plays a huge part in the atmosphere of the show.

The audience were highly vocal in their appreciation for the show, and this only heightened the feel good atmosphere of the evening that ended with everybody up on their feet dancing to ‘Yes’ after a much deserved standing ovation for an excellent show.

Dirty Dancing is at The Regent Theatre until July 8th – buy tickets online at The Regent.

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