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REVIEW: Dirty Dancing at The Mayflower, Southampton
Until April 28
IS THERE a woman alive who can resist the allure of Eleanor Bergstein’s tale of Baby and Johnny at Kellerman’s holiday camp in the summer of 1963?
Having seen the joy of 1987 film musical recreated en masse in a packed Mayflower theatre, I’d venture the answer – no. They called out in joy, giggled, swayed and absorbed every second of this production, before falling out singing into the night, high on its energy.
And it seems that many men fall under this simple story’s spell too, given how many of them were present. Although they were kept happy by some lovely ladies on stage, particularly the drop dead gorgeous Charlotte Gooch as Penny, a blonde bombshell who had amazing legs to her armpits.
Emily Holt (with perfect wig and wardrobe) gives her best Baby, including imitating the vocal delivery of original star Jennifer Grey opposite Paul-Michael Jones as Johnny Castle. They certainly have the look and the moves down pat, and Emily in particular does a great job of convincing us as Baby matures over the course of that fateful summer.
Emilia Williams is sure to get a huge cheer every night for her performance as Baby’s sister Lisa, who delivers a hilarious Lisa’s Hula towards the conclusion.
There’s just something about this holiday romance that has won us over since it was first released. I can remember going bonkers to it as an innocent 11 year-old, and it’s one of those films where I know every line and every background noise (Grease is another), similar to many of my friends and peers.
As such, I loved this well-staged production, which fans will not want to miss given that it redelivers the film for you (scenes, costumes, script) adding a few additional touches here and then. Its attention to detail is quite something, particularly its exact musical cues throughout, so just as you’re recollecting what bit of music should be kicking in at a particular scene, you’ll, thrillingly, hear it begin.
It helps that the music of the period and of the film is so, so good. Hungry Eyes has always been a favourite, and they have cleverly avoided playing original star Patrick Swayze’s original vocal of She’s Like the Wind – that would have tipped us all over the edge.
But all the rest are there, including Hey! Baby, Love Man, Do You Love Me, Love is Strange, and the standout track, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.
It’s a hard heart which won’t melt as she makes that lift, which prompts spontaneous applause and standing ovations from delighted patrons.
*Tickets are available from the box office on 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.