Theatre Review: Dirty Dancing - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭✭✭

 Review by Ellen Cree

It was a mother and daughter night out to the passionate Dirty Dancing at the Edinburgh Playhouse this week, and after going into the theatre knowing virtually nothing apart from the fact that nobody puts Baby in a corner, we were very pleasantly surprised. Confession: I must be the only nineteen year old, perhaps in the world, who hadn’t seen Dirty Dancing before, and after witnessing last nights performance, I was quite glad that I hadn’t, as I got to experience Dirty Dancing for the first time in a such a tremendous way.

Before the show began there was a definite buzz about the auditorium which, unsurprisingly, included a large number of exceedingly excited females. For those of you like me who don’t know, Dirty Dancing is set in 1963, and the Houseman family are holidaying at a summer where Baby, the youngest of the family, falls in love with one of the camps’ dancing instructors, Johnny Castle. The pair are from opposing backgrounds however the young individuals come together after Baby steps in to dance with Johnny when his dance partner Penny finds herself unexpectedly pregnant.  The show includes fun, energised music, embracing familiar hits from the 1960s as well as heart-pounding original songs and enchanting, inspiring dancing.

The standard of dancing was overwhelming. The audience wain awe of how incredible all the cast looked, and for me in particular, Claire Rogers in her role as Penny Johnson was outstanding when it came to pirouetting across the stage.

Gareth Bailey, who plays the role of Johnny Castle and Roseanna Frascona, in the iconic part of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (made famous by the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey  in the 1987 film version), were both also amazingly talented. Bailey positively embodied Johnny’s strong, attractive, authoritative persona while receiving a few wolf whistles in the process, especially during his topless bedroom scene with Baby.  Frascona interpreted Baby exactly in the way I imagined she would be, successfully showing her naivety, sensitivity, beauty and heart of gold as well as providing some funny and endearing moments, particularly during her dance training scenes.

Another favourite  was Lisa Houseman played by Jessie-Lou Yates who especially shone in the second act, notably during ‘Lisa’s Hula’ which had the audience laughing and the woman a few seats away from me in stitches. Another source of comic relief was provided by Mark Faith as Mr. Schumacher who’s ‘Dad dancing’ and overall presence provided smiles and laughter all around. The charming, empowering voice of Colin Charles, who plays Tito Suarez, was a highlight and he had the audience in the palm of his hand. James Coombes and Julia. J. Nagle as Dr. Jake and Marjorie Houseman were extremely sweet and endearing and really stood out amongst the cast.

The show ended with cheers and screams as Johnny and Baby performed the iconic routine to the song made famous by the film. ‘(I’ve had) The Time of my Life’ had the whole audience grinning from ear to ear and feeling euphoric. The finale was captivating and uplifting, making it the perfect end to the perfect, feel good show. It has that it made me deeply regret giving up dance classes as a child. I had the time of my life.

Dirty Dancing is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 14th March