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Review: Steamy romance and dirty dancing got the audience screaming for more

PUBLISHED: 12:25 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:19 09 April 2019

Kira Malou (Baby) and Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage Picture: Alastair Muir

Kira Malou (Baby) and Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage Picture: Alastair Muir

©ALASTAIR MUIR CONTACT alastair@alastairmuir.com

We all had the time of our lives as iconic 1980s movie Dirty Dancing was re-created on stage at the Ipswich Regent.

Dirty Dancing transfers from the big screen to on stage at the Ipswich Regent Picture: Alastair MuirDirty Dancing transfers from the big screen to on stage at the Ipswich Regent Picture: Alastair Muir

We all had the time of our lives as iconic 1980s movie Dirty Dancing was re-created on stage at the Ipswich Regent.

The audience just couldn’t get enough of the first night of the touring stage show, and the actors and musicians kept returning for just another few dance steps and one more saxophone solo.

Despite being set in the early 1960s, the show inevitably has a flavour of the glossier 1980s too.

Michael O’Reilly and Kira Malou have the difficult task of stepping into the dance shoes of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

Kira Malou (Baby) and Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) on stage at the Ipswich Regent Picture: Alastair MuirKira Malou (Baby) and Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) on stage at the Ipswich Regent Picture: Alastair Muir

They both do a great job, though, and make the parts their own. Malou has a wistful quality as little rich girl Frances “Baby” Houseman - a role she has previously played on tour. And O’Reilly gives Johnny Castle just the right blend of sex appeal and insecurity.

He got many cheers from female members of the audience, especially when he pulled off his shirt.

Simone Covele is also perfectly cast as talented but troubled dancer Penny, while Colin Charles sings and dances brilliantly as musician Tito Suarez. But the whole cast is superb.

The stage show, written by Eleanor Bergstein, includes much of the original dialogue from the movie, plus extra scenes to develop the characters further.

Kira Malou (Baby) and Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage Picture: John-Webb CarterKira Malou (Baby) and Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage Picture: John-Webb Carter

Teenager Baby is on holiday in New York’s Catskill mountains with her sister and parents in 1963 when she takes a break from the ballroom dancing at a party, and discovers some much raunchier “dirty” dancing in the staff quarters.

Soon she is becoming involved with the group, and in particular with dance instructor Johnny, who has to teach her to stand in as leading lady very quickly.

As well as steamy romance, the show also has a civil rights theme, and there was a powerful moment when one of Dr Martin Luther King’s speeches rang out through the theatre.

All the songs from the film, such as Hungry Eyes and Hey! Baby Do You Love Me feature, as well as the show-stopper (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

Some recorded tracks are used, but there is also plenty of live music, especially in the second half.

By the end of the show, the first-night audience was up and dancing along with the music. And nobody put Baby in the corner.

Dirty Dancing runs until April 13.

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