Theatre Review: Dirty Dancing - Piccadilly Theatre ✭✭

Dirty Dancing
Piccadilly Theatre

Now, where do I start with this one.. the words 'oh dear' spring to mind. On a truly hot night in the West End, I was expecting an even hotter musical. What I got was a cooling down of epic proportions, because unfortunately Dirty Dancing is, how do I put his nicely... not very good!

If you haven't seen Dirty Dancing on your tellybox or on the big screen, then let me enlighten you. It was a huge hit back in the day which starred Patrick Swayze as the dance leader Johnny Castle at Kellerman's holiday camp alongside Penny. The story is of Baby Houseman who goes to the camp on holiday with her family, Penny gets pregnant, Baby helps out by getting them money to help with the abortion, Baby steps in to be Johnny's partner and everyone lives happily ever after. Yes, the film isn't that great either apart from the dancing, and somehow, Dirty Dancing on stage replicates this with great precision - fantastic dancing, awful everywhere else.

As Baby Houseman, Jill Winternitz does her best with limited script and direction on stage, and Paul-Michael Jones is definitely no Patrick Swayze, his acting leaves a little to be desired but he makes up for it with his dance moves. Thank goodness we have Charlotte Gooch as Penny, with her long legs and sizzling dancing to go alongside her wonderful acting skills. As for the rest of the ensemble, I think less said the better, especially when it comes to really bad American accents throughout, it reminded me of a school play at times, you know the sort where the acting is really dry and needs that little bit extra to kick it into gear.

The problems with this production are that it looks cheap and is a mixture of recorded and live music. Now for me, a musical in the West End should be live music throughout, or don't bother. I wish they hadn't bothered on this occasion. The set relies heavily on projection which at times looks good, but other times doesn't really work - one example being the scene where Baby and Johnny are 'in the water' to practise dance lifts - on stage we see them beautifully in the water projection, along with splash sound effects for when they fall in the water - yet they are as dry as a bone throughout the scene... the magic of theatre!

There is a famous line in the show 'Nobody puts Baby in the corner'... quite frankly, I'd leave her there and retrieve her when something better happens. Dirty Dancing is booking until 22 Feb 2014, but I'd save your money and go and see something really good like Viva Forever... Oh, wait...

Two stars ✭✭


Venue:                              Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London W1D 7DY
Box Office:                            0844 871 7630
Tickets:                                  £26.50-£67*
Price includes a £1.50 theatre restoration levy and £2 booking fee per ticket.
*An additional £3 fee will apply per transaction.
No booking or transaction fee applies when booking in person at the box office.
Dates: Booking until Saturday 22 February 2014
Performance Times: Tuesday – Friday 7.30pm, Saturday 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 2.30pm & 7pm