Entertainment Hive 2020

Dirty Dancing The Classic Story on Stage

Adelaide Festival Theatre until November 1, 2015

Review by Honey B

The opening night Adelaide audience were up for the time of their lives and fans didn't leave the Festival Theatre disappointed. From the familiar opening dancers' silhouette to the introduction by Frances "Baby'' Houseman (Kirby Burgess) - the scene was set for a night of raunchy dancing and great songs. This show relied on the nostalgia of the original 1980s movie starring a hunky Patrick Swayze as dancer Johnny Castle and the young and impressionable Baby played by Jennifer Grey - who wants to change the world by joining the Peace Corps. But her values are tested as she becomes closer to the dancers and grows apart from her family. This production sticks extremely close to the original movie script and it was one the audience knew well with the classic "I carried a watermelon'' line  or "spaghetti arms'' and others garnering plenty of giggles and knowing nods. Above all the show was quirky fun, the field and the water lift scenes were played out on a big screen which looked absolutely ridiculous. It was so bad that it ended up being goofily good. Then there was the whole car scene, but there was no car. It was just funny. The stage version of Dirty Dancing has long been a triumphant unto itself, with critics mainly hating it and audiences drinking a few "pachungas'' and having an awesome night out. The problem lies in the musical aspect of the show. It's fantastic music but you desperately want the lead characters just belt out a song. In its 10th anniversary tour, the show has been modernised up a bit with bigger screens which are used to greater effect and the plantation shutter design was gorgeous. Which brings us to the spectacular lead Kirby Burgess as Baby. This is Burgess' break out role and what a find she truly is. Burgess is the show and she put in a perfect performance as the wide-eyed, idealistic, passionate teen - Burgess did not put a foot wrong in regards to either her acting or dancing. Kurt Phelan made for a tall, lanky Johnny Castle who has a touch of Grease's Danny Zuko about him as well. Phelan could certainly move and he gave it his all to the squeals of delight from audience members. Maddie Peat was ideally cast as dancer Penny, who gets knocked up, and she brought plenty of energy and sass to the role. Peat garnered plenty of wolf-whistles of her own from the crowd. Teagan Wouters was also note-perfect, or not, as Baby's older sister Lisa. Her classic Hula Hana was a hit - as was her quick change on-stage! By the time the finale rolls around, everyone was primed for (I've Had) The Time of My Life and getting Baby out of that corner. Whether it's theatre or musical, this quirky little classic is a winner and nobody is going to put Dirty Dancing The Classic Movie on Stage in a corner either.
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