Review – Dirty Dancing

Six words and the audience at Dirty Dancing lapses into loud applause, whistles and catcalls. Those words?
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” of course.

There are many moments like this in Dirty Dancing that has developed a league of fans since the suave and downright sexy Patrick Swayze danced his way across the screen back in 1987.

Swayze left women swooning at the box office with his dance moves and what was expected to be a low cost “filler” movie turned out to be a box office hit. Then came the Australian stage adaption of Dirty Dancing  in 2004 and it’s been breaking box office records across the globe ever since. In 2006 it broke records for achieving the largest advance in European theatre history in Hamburg, Germany.

The latest Australian production starring Kurt Phelan as charismatic dance teacher Johnny Castles and Kirby Burgess as the innocent and naive Baby,  bounced back on the stage last year and has been wowing audiences ever since.

Popular numbers such as Hungry Eyes, The Time of My Life and the perennially popular oldies Be My Baby and Do You Love Me have the audience singing along and leaving the theatre well satisfied.

The show is set back in the summer of 1963 and  tells the story of  17 year old Frances “Baby” Houseman who 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, Baby shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the staff quarters when an all-night dance party is in full swing. 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. Baby’s 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 with breathtaking consequences.

It’s entertainment with a capital E and the stage production remains true to the movie. Phelan and Burgess put on a great show and dance their way into the hearts of Dirty Dancing fans. Maddie Peat, one of the top dancers in the recent series of the hit television series So You Think You Can Dance plays dance instructor Penny Johnson. She makes dancing look easy. Mark Vincent plays Billy Kostecki, Johnny’s cousin and Baby’s father and mother Jake and Marjorie are played by Adam Murphy and Penny Marti.  Tegan Waters plays Baby’s sister Lisa.

What I loved about it

Well the music for a start, all that dancing and the performers who make it look easy. As for the most memorable moment – it has to be baby’s leap into Johnny’s arms… ahh yes Dirty Dancing is one heck of a show where audiences do have the time of their life reliving those special moments.

You leave feeling you want to join the nearest dance school. Go see it.

Where to see it

Brisbane- Lyric Theatre from May 27, 2015 see or phone 136246.

Perth-Crown Theatre Burswood from August 2, 2015 or phone 132 849.

Adelaide- Festival Theatre Adelaide Festival Centre from September 30, 2015 see or phone 131 246.

By Sue Wallace