Review: Dirty Dancing at Leeds Grand Theatre

DIRTY DUO Claire Rogers as Penny and Gareth Bailey as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing.

DIRTY DUO Claire Rogers as Penny and Gareth Bailey as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing.

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Dirty Dancing was a box office smash hit film in 1987, the soundtrack generated two albums and a clutch of singles – and it made a star of the hitherto-unknown Patrick Swayze.

And then came the show: Dirty Dancing translates easily to the stage – unlike many other films I’ve seen which have been lost in transition. The simple storyline, of young girl shrugging off the shackles of her childhood and falling for a handsome dance instructor, is easy to relate to.

There are ready-made songs, some superb dancing and a pair of leading actors who have a real connection to each other with plenty of on-stage chemistry.

Gareth Bailey as the swaggering Johnny Castle may not be Patrick Swayze but he’s a fine substitute with his dark, smouldering good looks, toned torso and superb dancing. Roseanna Frascona is a complete natural as 17-year-old Baby, the naive, innocent and unworldly young girl who emerges from of her shell and finally comes of age under the tutelage of Johnny.

Humour is provided courtesy of Jessie-Lou Yates as Baby’s sister Lisa and by Alexander Wolfe as Neil Kellerman.

It’s an undemanding show that asks nothing of the audience other than they sit back and enjoy themselves: it doesn’t moralise, preach or try to change opinion. In short, it’s a feelgood show, just the thing to liven up a dull winter’s evening.