Dirty Dancing: The Musical

Those who’ve been following my Twitter feed this evening (@LifeVsFilm follow me for a sporadic burst of tweets roughly once a month) will know that I went to see Dirty Dancing at the Mayflower in Southampton, and have since lived to regret it. It was so bad that I’d really rather have watched the film, for several reasons including Patrick Swayze and Wayne Knight, and because hoardes of drunken hen parties wouldn’t have yelled and jeered for their lives when Johnny Castle lifted Baby up in the air after winking at the audience.
The show made a point of hitting all the main beats from the film, even referencing the Fountainhead, but skipped merrily past some of the key scenes, thankfully including the atrocious miming of Loverboy, mercifully cut short, but also knocked out some of the more dramatic moments in favour of another mediocre dance number. Disappointingly, there were too few live songs, with only the finale’s Time of My Life of any real worth.
The leads (I won’t mention their names, partly because I don’t know them, and partly because I’m never going to need to remember them as I doubt they’ll do anything again) seem to have been cast purely for their physical similarities to Swayze and Jennifer Grey, for though they can dance a great deal better than me, I was less than impressed. They also couldn’t act terribly well, and neither even tried to sing.
If I hadn’t seen the film, I think I’d have had some difficulty understanding the plot, and why some discussions on race and politics were clumsily shoe-horned in, and I certainly would have been thoroughly confused as to why everyone got to their feet and cheered when Castle proclaimed that no-one puts Baby in a corner, though she quite obviously was not sat in a corner at all, something which has yet to stop annoying me.
Now I’m not just writing this off because it’s a musical. When I saw The Lion King and Chicago in recent years I was impressed, though they still didn’t live up to the film versions, but I enjoyed myself a great deal. Granted, it helped that I liked the films they were based on and had consumed at least one alcoholic beverage beforehand, neither of which was the case tonight. In fact I’d downed a couple of caffeine tablets, so sure was I that I’d be snoring softly before the interval. Miraculously this didn’t happen, but without the little tablets of joy that are Pro-Plus, I’d surely have had myself a lovely nap.
Another quick note (last one, I promise), one of the singers performed a song that featured the lyric “I’m 6 foot 4,” yet the performer in question was easily amongst the shorter members of the cast, topping out at an optimistic 5′ 8″, exacerbated by positioning him next to the gangly Castle, who spent most of the show in heels far too high for a man.
Anyway, if you’ve recently performed a drunken lobotomy on yourself, you’re sure to like this. If not, either watch the film (don’t), go see a different musical (Avenue Q looks good, or War Horse) or go to the cinema. It’s cheaper, and you can see much better things. I for one intend to go and see the Cabin in the Woods next week, so look out for an impending review heading your way soon.

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