Bristol Hippodrome

Dirty Dancing - July 2017

Dance is dirty, performance is smooth


This week, the smash hit musical Dirty Dancing returns to the Bristol Hippodrome for one week only. 

Dirty Dancing needs little introduction.

The iconic 80s film won multiple awards, including an Academy Award for best music and a Golden Globe for best original song.

Faithful to the film we know and love, director Federico Bellone with Magic Hour Productions has put together a heartwarming and somewhat saucy show that brought about a true sense of nostalgia amongst the audience. 

Dirty Dancing is set in 1963 – a golden moment in US history.

The county was seeing a rise in prosperity, with the ‘American dream’ something every citizen felt was in their reach.

John F Kennedy was president, and Martin Luther King delivered his landmark 'I have a dream' speech. 
During this time, many affluent families would go on vacation to Catskill Mountain resorts, situated roughly 100 miles north of New York City.

It is here that Dirty Dancing is set, and where we meet Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman and her family who enjoy regular breaks at a leisure resort together. 

While Baby is a grown woman, she's lived a sheltered life.

She wants to join the Peace Corp and make the world a better place, and believes there's no man greater than her daddy.

But while staying at the resort, everything changes when she helps a staff member carry a couple of watermelons into a restricted area.

This is where she meets Johnny Castle, the resort’s dance instructor, and discovers ‘dirty dancing’ for the first time.
After overhearing that Johnny’s dance partner Penny is temporarily unable to work due to an unplanned pregnancy, Baby agrees to learn to dance with Johnny so that she can fill her spot at an upcoming performance.

Of course, she quickly falls in love, and becomes involved in a series of events that completely change the way she views herself and the world around her.

Lewis Griffiths had a lot to live up to in his role as Johnny.

As you probably know, it was Patrick Swayze who first took on the role in 1987.

Yet, despite initial concerns he might fall flat by comparison, Griffiths nailed the part from his opening line.

Even the tone of his voice appeared to mimic Swayze’s – perhaps as a nod to the late actor who passed away in 2009.
Baby, played by Katie Eccles, was extremely likeable and convincing in her role.

She had great chemistry with Griffiths and the pair danced well together. 

One of the best moments in Dirty Dancing was the ‘learning to dance’ montage.

This showed us Jonny teaching Baby how to dance in preparation for the performance.

The montage covered several days worth of story, and allowed us to witness the quickly developing attraction between the couple.      

Set design by Roberto Comotti was exceptional.

It's rare to see such creative and adventurous attempts to recreate iconic movie moments on the stage – yet each scene, whether it be Jonny’s threadbare bedroom or the vast lake where the couple practise their famous ‘lift’, was incredibly realistic and very well put together.  

The show raised a lot of important social issues including race, class and even abortion.

Each topic was handled without apology and with total transparency, giving the storyline a completely new dimension. 

It is undoubtedly the music that makes Dirty Dancing as fantastic as it is, and it was pleasing to hear original songs from the film like I've Had The Time Of My Life and Hey Baby.

What made this production of Dirty Dancing so great was that it didn't budge from the original story, and simply found creative and brave ways to bring all the things we love about the film to the stage. 

Dirty Dancing plays the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, July 8. 

Emma Rowlands

Baby is back at Bristol Hippodrome

PREVIEW: This summer get down and dirty as a new dance production returns to the Bristol Hippodrome stage.

Producers Karl Sydow and Paul Elliott are delighted to announce that Dirty Dancing will mambo back onto the road after a sensational Christmas season in the West End followed by international dates in Bremen and Cannes.

Starring Lewis Griffiths as Johnny Castle, Katie Hartland as Baby Houseman and Carlie Milner as Penny Johnson, the UK tour has already taken more than £10million pounds since it hit the road last August and due to overwhelming demand for tickets around the country even more dates have been added, including return visit to Bristol.
The classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs Hungry Eyes, Hey! Baby, Do You Love Me? and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

Full of passion and romance, heart-pounding music and sensationally sexy dancing, this record-breaking all new concept of the show is directed by Federico Bellone, choreographed by Gillian Bruce with set design re-imagined by top Italian designer Roberto Comotti.

It premiered in Milan in July 2015, subsequently packing out the 15,000 seat Roman Arena in Verona, and then played a season in Rome. 
Lewis Griffiths has had a prolific career in musical theatre, most recently starring as Nick Massi on the UK tour of Jersey Boys.

Other UK touring roles include Ghost and Legally Blonde, and West End credits include Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Rent and Whistle Down the Wind.
Katie Hartland made her professional musical theatre debut carrying the watermelons as Baby Houseman, having graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015.
Carlie Milner is part of the Dirty Dancing family; starting as a member of the ensemble in 2014, she covered and subsequently took over the role of Penny in 2015.
The rest of the company are Julian Harries as Jake Houseman, Simone Craddock as Marjorie Houseman, Tony Stansfield as Max Kellerman, Jo Servi as Tito Suarez, Lizzie Ottley as Lisa Houseman, Michael Kent as Billy Kostecki, Greg Fossard as Neil Kellerman, Nigel Nevinson as Mr Schumacher, Daniela Pobega as Elizabeth and Camilla Rowland as Vivian.

Also joining the company are Gabby Antrobus, Imogen Brooke, Simon Campbell, Robert Colvin, Katie Eccles, Beth Highsted, Samuel John Humphreys, Megan Louch, Ashley Rumble, Callum Sterling, Austin Wilks and Karl James Wilson, who is the alternate Johnny Castle.
It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year- old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing. On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, she shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters.

Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor.

Her life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off, and two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.
Dirty Dancing –The Classic Story On Stage is penned by the person who wrote the 1978 film script Eleanor Bergstein and features the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic film, as well as exciting extra scenes.

It opens at Bristol on Monday to Saturday, July 3-8.

For tickets from £15.40 click HERE.