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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Press views: Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing
The show stars Josef Brown as Johnny and Georgina Rich as Baby
A stage version of the classic 1987 film Dirty Dancing has opened at the Aldwych Theatre in London.

Penned by original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, the musical tells the story of a young girl who falls for a dance instructor during a family holiday.

It has already attracted 11m in advance ticket sales, but what do the critics make of the stage show?


The secret of Dirty Dancing's undimmed appeal lies in the female psyche.

Women have been known to watch Eleanor Bergstein's simple coming of age tale dozens of times.

Personally I got ample taste of the film's schmaltzy Romeo and Juliet-lite fare at one sitting - but what do I know?

Whatever cynical metropolitan males may think of it, the producers have taken no chances in terms of losing that army of ardent supporters: in all key respects, the stage version resembles a carbon-copy of the film.

There's no guarantee here that you'll have the time of your life but a decent night out for couples courting or otherwise? You bet.


The problem with attempting to recreate a facsimile of a film on stage is that, inevitably, celluloid does it far better.

Why spend 35 a ticket on this when you can rent a DVD for far less and leave your seat to make a cup of tea during the smoochy boring bits?

There are a lot of boring bits and not half enough dancing. Or at least not enough dirty dancing.

When somebody does break into song, it often looks like a mistake. Even the leads appear to have been cast for their physical similarity to the original stars.

If you want to see really sexy dancing it's on display in Guys and Dolls just down the road, which, incidentally, just happens to star Patrick Swayze.


As Johnny, the chippy dance instructor at the upmarket American Butlins, Josef Brown does not have the balletic dynamism of Patrick Swayze in the movie, nor does he have the latter's capacity to make you root for the little man, as he's a tall, strapping mass of muscle.

But he and the well-cast Georgina Rich - who brings light physical grace and just the right kind of unconventional attractiveness to the role of doctor's daughter "Baby" Houseman - radiate an infectious pleasure in their dancing together.

This is a show that will give keen pleasure to Dirty Dancing addicts and to newcomers alike.


Dirty Dancing is a variation of the Ugly Duckling story that makes Hans Christian Andersen look like a kitchen-sink realist.

But who cares when Brown is on the dance floor or (inevitably) in his bedroom, matching Patrick Swayze, who played Johnny in the film.

All this is brilliantly staged, but raises an obvious question. Why not get a DVD of the movie, where such things occur more seamlessly?

Yet I found myself warming to Bergstein's modern fairy story and to the principals: Brown, elegant of mind and spirit as well as body, and Rich, growing in assurance, skill and beauty as she takes her life into her own hands - and, of course, her own feet.

Clips from the West End production

Curtain up on Dirty Dancing show
24 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
The time of your life?
24 Oct 06 |  Magazine
Sales boom for Dirty Dancing show
28 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
London faces fresh musical wave
15 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Press views: Spamalot
17 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Press views: Guys And Dolls
02 Jun 05 |  Entertainment

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