Theatre Review: Dirty Dancing at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford
No matter how many times you might have seen the 1987 classic movie, it never fails to deliver. And if you want to see a show that brings that movie to life on the stage, you can – Dirty Dancing is at the Orchard Theatre in all its glory until 6th October.
This production has it all. It begins with a beat of music much like a heartbeat (a ‘gu-gung’, perhaps?) and from that moment on, it just keeps ticking all the boxes. Those tunes we all know and love from the movie, the ones we can sing off by heart from beginning to end underpin the story of Baby and Johnny who fall in love during the summer of 1963 at Kellerman’s the holiday camp. They come from completely different sides of the track, but a love of dance, and a way of teaching each other the most important lessons in life bring them together.
There are stand-out performances throughout this show. Kira Malou plays Baby Houseman (who no one should put in a corner) with a pure innocence that combines perfectly with a young girl’s discovery of love and how the world might be if she steps out of her comfort zone for a little while. The change from awkward teenager to beautifully poised and confident young lady is miraculous, and she is certainly someone that many audience members could easily relate to.
Then there is Michael O’Reilly as Johnny Castle. O’Reilly gives Johnny a swagger and cockiness that is a mask for his vulnerability and confusion over what he is meant to be doing, and how to get things right when it all seems to be going wrong. It is this side of Johnny that Baby falls in love with, and it is this side that makes his such an audience favourite.
Simone Covele as Penny is a marvel. Just watching her dance is mesmerising, but since she can act too Penny becomes a completely believable and utterly understandable character.
This show is fantastic. Whether you’ve seen the film or not (and there can’t be many people who haven’t), this production of Dirty Dancing is as sexy and as uplifting as any that have gone before it. Go, now, and have the time of your life!