Review: Dirty Dancing at Nottingham Theatre Royal

Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing

REMAKING, revamping or modifying a classic film in any way can be a risky business because there is always a host of dedicated fans waiting to pass judgement.

But adapting Dirty Dancing for the stage seems to have been a great move - at least if the excited reception from the audience at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal was anything to go by.

As the story of Baby and Johnny’s holiday romance at Kellerman’s unfurls, the production delivers everything from the film you would expect - with added extras.

The songs, the dances and the famous lines from the film are all eagerly anticipated by the audience, and this anticipation, coupled with the reaction when what they are waiting for finally happens, adds an extra element to the production that you can only get from the stage version.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray’s shoes are big shoes to fill for anyone, but the actors in the musical make the roles their own, rather than trying to outdo the film’s stars.

Jill Winternitz is a much more likeable Baby, who I found easier to empathise with, while Paul-Michael Jones’ Johnny is just as streetwise and sexy as Patrick’s, but with a more sensitive side apparent.

Another advantage of the theatre show is that the dancing scenes in the film really come to life. There is much more dancing than in the film and because the cast are performing there and then, you really appreciate their talent and the meaning behind the routines.

The live band is very much involved in the action thanks to clever positioning on the stage and the fantastic soundtrack is used to its full effect, moving between back and foreground as appropriate.

Trying to incorporate so many settings could have proved difficult on the stage, but the use of video projections, simple props and a rotating stage conquers any problems.

• Dirty Dancing is on at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham until Saturday 2nd March 2013. For details call the box office on 0115 9895555 or visit