**** 4 Stars
“You can’t help but fall for its charms”
The Iconic pink neon sign blazes out across the auditorium of the Festival Theatre instantly setting the scene for the most beloved of romantic movies now transformed into a stage musical. The company have a lot to live up to in trying to recapture the magic of the most treasured film of a generation and a film which came to define the career and legacy of the late Patrick Swayze.
This company largely succeed in delivering a raunchy, sexy and often pathos filled show that adds to the legacy rather than detracting from it. Set in the Summer of 1963 prior to the assassination of President Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther would extol the power of his dream, it all seems a million miles away from the holiday resort in the Catskill Mountains were we find the Houseman family including Frances, better known as Baby (played by Kira Malou in a staggering truthful and warm heart way, staying clear of the well-known Jennifer Grey movie take but also enshrining the naivety needed for the role).
Baby is keen to show off her dancing skill in story of Americana versus coming of age and discovering oneself. Johnny Castle (The stunning Michael O’Reilly, who takes on the challenge of Swayze and makes the role his own!) is looking for a new dance partner thanks to his current one falling pregnant to another man. He finds Baby and they set out on a journey of self-discovery and reshaping the world around them, taking on bigotry and intolerance along the way.
This production has a rich shine to it thanks to Director Federico Bellone knowing his material and understanding what it takes to transform a film to a stage production. Supported by an excellent ensemble cast adding to the mix, Roberto Comotti set design, Valerio Tiberi & Nick Richings evocative lighting design the film of many a childhood is alive on stage and its beautiful to see.
Special mention must go to Austin Wilks Choreography he truly captures all the magic of the film and makes it accessible for modern audiences but loses none of its Charms and the iconic lift is there in all its glory and its never looked better.
It’s in the music that see’s the only drawback, the show is filled with a plethora of 50s and 60s classics and the title track of the movie (I’ve had the time of my life) is all present but the decision to pair the live band down to just three musicians who also appear on stage throughout the show, it’s clear a large click track has been deployed and it leaves the sound just a tad too synthetic and does the overall production a dis-service.
Dirty Dancing is assured good audiences as it appeals to a certain generation whose movie going memories of childhood are relived and it’s a crowd pleasing and soul stirring in equal measure. You can’t help but fall for its charms, so for the time of your life, getting along the Festival Theatre were every night feels like the weekend.!
Dirty Dancing, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, runs until Saturday 13th November, UK tour continues for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/dirty-dancing-2021