Dirty Dancing @ Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

The stage version of Dirty Dancing is a fun and frothy night out that delivers all your favourite hits and some impressive dance moves

Review by Alice Lannon | 14 Mar 2019

Eleanor Bergstein’s stage adaptation of her hit 1987 film Dirty Dancing, directed by Federico Bellone, follows the classic story of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. Baby's a naive but loveable teenager who, on a family holiday to Kellerman’s Resort, has her world view considerably expanded when she falls for a handsome dance instructor. Issues of social class, first love, and abortion in the US are all touched upon in the stage show, while the lively renditions of the classic hits from the show – along with some very impressive dancing – ensure it still zips along and never feels heavy.

The best thing about this production is (of course) the dancing. Simone Covele is dazzling in the role of the glamorous Penny, whilst Kira Malou does a great job of portraying the idealistic and sheltered Baby, and her journey into the world of dance. Michael O’Reilly is also a good choice for the part of Johnny, and pulls off the role with flair; choreographer Gillian Bruce has clearly done a wonderful job.

Roberto Comotti’s elaborate set is fantastic, and adds to much to this performance of the timeless musical. The ‘buildings’ which spin round to reveal different rooms are a wonderful idea, and add so much depth to the performance.

Unsurprisingly, the stage show follows the movie religiously, and so we end up with some hilarious scenes. The infamous lake scene involves the innovative use of a screen and ‘splashing’ sound effects, which is very funny and works well.

The only distraction from an otherwise high quality production is the noticeably static line delivery from some of the cast members. American accents also slipped several times, which detracted a fair bit from the performance. Nevertheless, the singing and dancing is very cleanly executed and largely carries the performance; this is a musical after all. A big hand also goes to the live band, and music supervisor Conrad Helfrich, who give a truly energetic and playful performance throughout the musical.

Even without some of the magic of the original film, Dirty Dancing is a fun, cheerful and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours.

Dirty Dancing @ Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, on tour