Dirty Dancing at The Empire

By Chris Clayton

Sometimes its easier to be a cynic than it is to want to enjoy something. Its cool to not like Dirty Dancing, and say to your girlfriend ‘he’s not good looking’ every time Patrick Swayze walks on the scene, but lets be honest, women want him, men want to be him.

So here I am, walking down Lime Street with my girlfriend, and surrounded by women, women, women and women. There’s a range of ages, but I have never seen the Empire as busy. It’s not surprising though, the National Tour is record breaking, and the film was a smash hit. As we take our seats, the stage is simple, just the dirty dancing logo projected on to the stage. Man, how that would change.

The show starts and my mind is blown. The stage is amazing. The band, that are usually in the pits are visible through the show, they’re on an upper tier balcony through the stage. Impressively,  the stage has a rotating circle so the props move around as though the cast are walking past them, and the backdrop is incredible. The days of painted backdrop are gone, this is all computerized rolex replica watches, the backdrop runs like a film. And the dancing, the dancing is amazing.

Penny played by Claire Rodgers, a graduate from the Royal School of Ballet, is a show stopping dancer. Even more, Roseanna Frascona, playing the part of Baby, has an uncanny resemblance to Jennifer Grey. The opening scene is brilliant, and it sets up what is going to be an incredible show.
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The show goes on and we see Johnny Castle, played by Lewis Kirk, first enter the stage. He’s full of charisma and the crowd love him. The women whistle, and anyone would think that Patrick Swayze has just walked on stage. He only stepped in recently, as cover for the original Johnny Castle, but that isn’t noticeable. He is full of confidence.

The music is brilliant, the singers are incredible, and the choreography is done impeccably. There all brilliant actors too, they’ve nailed the American accents. The first half comes to an end as Johnny is in bed with Baby. The women are super excited, the men are impressed with the first half, and I leave to get a drink, thinking how can I possibly write a review to emphasis how good this has been.

The second half doesn’t slow down. Its just as brilliant. The dancing carries on to the excitement of the crowd and as the story unfolds the clapping, and wolf whistles, carry on. The crowd are receptive, they are amazed. And as we start to approach the finale the crowd are all in anticipation of the ending.

If you’ve ever seen Dirty Dancing you’ll know that Johnny leaves to avoid being sacked by the boss. However in true American fashion he makes an heroic return. From the back of the audience, Johnny Castle comes marching down the aisle, and the Empire lifts with cheering and the wolf whistles are multiplied. He marches on stage looks at Baby’s father and says it. ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner!’. The crowd love it, they really really love it. Then that dance starts. Probably the most famous finale of all time. Johnny takes the last dance with Baby to ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ and the crowd sing along. And then the atmosphere hits the roof as Baby is lifted by Johnny.

The show is brilliant. The acting is flawless, the dancing is mind-blowing and the music is pitch perfect. If you’re in Liverpool go see it. If you’re girlfriend wants to go, take her. Whoever you are, it doesn’t matter, you will be blown away.

 

Chris also had the opportunity to interview the cast, they talk about what they make of Liverpool, their own time as students and give some advice and incite on how they got into theater.

Listen here:

Dirty Dancing Cast Interview – By Chris Clayton by This Radio on Mixcloud

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