Review: Dirty Dancing @ Palace Theatre, Manchester

Dirty Dancing firmly set the stage on fire as it returned to the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

Prior to opening night, the show – based on the 1987 film of the same name – had been met with both expectation and anticipation since it announced a string of summer dates earlier this year.

So could it live up to all the hype? Well, it actually did more than that.

The production managed to deliver in every imaginable way – in the process establishing itself as must-see for fans of theatre.

The success of this venture was seemingly a foregone conclusion with stars Lewis Griffiths and Katie Eccles at the helm playing Johnny and Baby.

These roles, of course, were originally filled by the iconic duo of Patrick Swazye and Jennifer Grey in the movie.

While the two leads therefore had big shoes to fill, the pair were both clearly up for the task.

SIZZLING: The dance moves are almost too hot to handle

Griffiths and Eccles showcase both sizzling dance moves and an enticing chemistry as they bring the famous story to life on stage.

In particular, the hunky Griffiths has the audience eating out the palm of his hand while displaying the raw sex appeal required for the role.  

Meanwhile, Eccles grows from scene-to-scene as she moves towards that all-important lift.

Due to this the excitement nears fever pitch as that jaw-dropping manoeuvre swings around in the final routine.

In fact, on this particular night the scene was met with a rare – almost unheard of – standing ovation before the action even came to a close.

It’s not just these stars that deserve credit for making this production such a hit.

The supporting cast brings heaps of energy whenever they are given an opportunity to shine.

Specifically, Carlie Milner should be singled out for evoking sympathy in her role of Penny.

IT’S BACK: The production has returned to Manchester

Julian Harries and Simone Craddock also deserve their props for taking on the subtly complex characters that are Baby’s parents.

While this production is clearly aimed at fans of the film, it resists the urge to take liberties.

It’s extremely pleasant to see that the plot and characters are well fleshed out rather than just riding on the coattails of the original movie.

As well, the show insists on juggling serious themes such as abortion, class inequality and race relations while at no time biting off more than it can chew.

Ultimately, Dirty Dancing isn’t just about hearing classic hits such as ‘Time of My Life’, ‘Hungry Eyes’ and ‘Do You Love Me?’.

Instead, it’s an example of how much-loved movies can successfully be adapted to the stage if done right.

*Dirty Dancing is on at the Palace Theatre, Manchester unttil Saturday, July 22. You can buy tickets HERE.

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