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Dirty Dancing

2 Jul

Ad number 3 for New Billboard Day and this one promised to be my most social yet – a trip to the theatre to see Dirty Dancing!

As a 26 year old straight man, I’m not ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen the original Dirty Dancing film.  I knew about ‘the lift scene,’ the iconic 80’s soundtrack and quotes such as “I carried a watermelon” and “Nobody puts baby in a corner” (the latter thanks to the Fall Out Boy song of a similar name), but the thought of actually sitting down to watch the film has never really appealed.  Having said that, as a fan of High School Musical and Camp Rock I was willing to give the stage adaptation a go.

Rather than go to the theatre by myself, laptop in hand, I figured this would be a good way to bring the team at work together so invited my colleagues Helena and Ann-Marie to come along.  Now we needed a sponsor and Ad2One‘s Katie and Alicia very kindly organised the tickets.  It suddenly struck me that I was not only attending but actually organising a girl’s night out…  This pretty much set the tone for the whole evening.

After meeting for cocktails (of course) in Covent Garden, we made it to our seats with literally a minute to spare.  I must say the Aldwych Theatre was a beautiful venue and despite being in the last few rows we still had an absolutely perfect view of the stage.  I’m only 5ft 8″ and found the leg-room to be pretty non-existent plus with no arm rests it means you get pretty intimate with whoever you’re sitting next to (particularly Ann-Marie who had Jabba The Hut’s sister next to her).  However, it just added to the hen party atmosphere that was inevitable with a play like this.

As for the play itself, I have to say it was pretty fucking awesome.  I’m not a big fan of movie adaptations in the west end as I feel it somewhat ‘dumbs down’ the arts, but there’s no denying that a film about dancing translates to stage well.  As I had guessed, the story was pretty predictable (posh girl meets common guy, end up shagging thanks to the power of dance) but the fact that this was one of the first films to do this before your Honey’s, Street Dance’s and Step Up’s is testament to the story’s timeless appeal.  Throw in the subplots about abortion, losing one’s virginity, summer romance and arguing with your parents and it pretty much ticked all the boxes for a female-focused drama. 

The dancing itself was outstanding.  I’ve been to Matthew Bourne productions that didn’t impress me as much as some of the routines and during the interval the girls said they suddenly had the urge to get down to Pineapple Studios and learn to salsa.  Some of the American accents were a bit ropey, but on the whole the cast was excellent and based on the shrieks every time he took his top off, Johnny was clearly a particular favourite.  I was a bit worried about everyone’s least favourite X Factor reject Ray Quinn ruining everything, but thankfully he was used sparingly and I have to admit he did an excellent job singing ‘Time Of My Life.’  The majority of songs were on a CD (other than a few mambo style cabaret performances), but if anything it seemed to give the audience permission to sing along to the 80’s songs like ‘Hungry Eyes’ which they already knew and loved.  The 50’s themed songs that played during scene changes were also excellent.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Dirty Dancing but I can safely say that I was extremely impressed.  It was a fun, entertaining, guilty pleasure of a night out that was extremely well executed and actually really good.  I admit it’s not Lloyd Webber, but the atmosphere was almost like a concert and the choreography was better.  Whilst you needn’t have seen the original to enjoy it, based on the reactions of the girls around me I can confidently say that you’ll be sent to the point of near climax if you’re already familiar with the characters, quotes and songs.

The show ends on 9th July and if you can get a ticket I would genuinely recommend you do.

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