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.

Dirty Dancing

We recently booked tickets to see this on stage at the Mayflower theatre in April (not my idea) and I’ve never seen the film. I know, shocking. I’ve seen Crazy, Stupid Love, so I figure I’d seen the important bit already, but enough goddamn Empire readers voted it onto the top 500 films list that I had to see it. Motherfuckers.

It’s the summer of 1963, and Wayne Knight is working as an entertainer at a holiday camp. He makes a deal to steal some dinosaur DNA hidden in a shaving foam can and smuggle it out during a storm, but doesn’t bank on a dilophosaurus with a penchant for fat, sweaty guys. Some kids nearly diea few times, Laura Dern gets terrified by Samuel L. Jackson’s disembodied hand and a T-Rex eats Patrick Swayze whilst he lifts Jennifer Grey up in the air. Well you can’t blame me for dreaming, can you?
Alas, all we have here is a rather tepid story of a girl getting it off with her rather ‘hands-on’ dance instructor at a summer holiday camp, whilst her parents would rather she dated a rich, boring guy instead. Before this film I’d only ever seen Swayze as a sinister paedophile in Donnie Darko, so to me he comes off as creepy and predatory, praying on the naive young dancer as they are forced together, Swayze’s sleeve-phobic Johnny Castle having to teach Grey’s Baby to dance professionally in a matter of days, so the relationship that built up between them may have appeared more Sordid than perhaps it was supposed to.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no dancer – mainly because that means I don’t have to dance – so any dancing seen on film is lost on me. I can’t tell when people are dancing well, or even in time, so showing long routines or montages of improvement have a similar effect as me listening to someone gradually improving their Cantonese.
Grey is a terrible actress – her miming to Mickey & Sylvia’s Loverboy is excruciating, and the most famous line in the film (some crap about a corner) is tossed away so haphazardly I doubt it would have been missed had it been cut.
Anyone want to buy a theatre ticket?
Choose life 3/10