Rachel Robertson

Review: Dirty Dancing @ Sunderland Empire

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Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing, the stage musical based on the 1987 film, danced its way into Sunderland this week (January 29), bringing with it the summer of 1963. The Sunderland Empire Theatre was packed, attracting a largely female audience who were on the edge of their seats for the highly anticipated musical.

The storyline of a young girl shrugging off her shackles, and falling in love with a handsome dance instructor is easy to relate to. The show provides ready-made songs, spectacular dancing, and a pair of incredible leading actors, whose on stage chemistry is felt by the audience.

Watching Roseanna Frascona on the stage is like watching the film come to life. She is a complete natural as 17-year-old Baby. We see her finally come out of her shell, and grow from the innocent and naive doctors daughter, after rebelling against her parents to become involved with her dance instructor.

Gareth Bailey as Johnny Castle had some rather large shoes to fill being a substitute for Patrick Swazye, but he filled them well. With an incredible amount of whistles coming his way from the audience, they seemed not only impressed with his toned torso, but his impeccable dance moves.

The famous water scene provided humour from Baby, as she takes the leap of faith into the arms of Johnny, only for them both to fall into the water several times, leaving the audience chuckling amongst themselves.

One to watch is Penny (Claire Rogers), who gave stunning performances – she’d give Ola Jordan a run for her money with them sharp dance moves and incredibly toned legs.

The show came to an end with a loud cheer from the audience as Johnny made his way through the audience onto the stage for the moment we had all been waiting for. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” followed by the famous Time of my Life routine, which was applauded by cheers, whistles and an incredible round of applause as Baby leaps into Johnny’s arms, being raised into the air as the room was lit up with disco balls.

The set worked well, with the live band placed up at the top of the stage, and high quality projections in place for the outdoor and water scene. Not forgetting the highly comical Hula Song performed by Baby’s little sister Lisa (Jessie-Lou Yates), which had the audience in fits of laughter.

The cast all leapt back onto the stage and partnered off for one last dance, with the audience still on their feet dancing in the stalls, and whistles coming from every direction.

The Dirty Dancing experience is the perfect night at the theatre. The show will be on at Sunderland’s Empire Theatre until Saturday February 14.

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