A fast-moving, feelgood night out

Dirty Dancing  at Milton Keynes Theatre
Dirty Dancing at Milton Keynes Theatre
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Dirty Dancing: Theatre review by Hannah Richardson

Sorry if that makes me sound grumpy, but all too often I’m disappointed by lacklustre staging and, dare I say it, second-rate performers.

Not this time though.

Producers Karl Sydow and Paul Elliott’s new UK production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, following a sensational Christmas season in the West End.

We’ve all seen the film but I must be one of very few theatregoers who hadn’t, until now, watched a stage version of the show.

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life, as well as a thing or two about dancing.

Katy Harland stars as Baby, with Lewis Griffiths in extremely fine fettle as the sexy Johnny Castle, the role made famous by Patrick Swayze.

It was hard to imagine anyone else taking on the iconic role of Johnny, but Griffiths made a great job of it. Whippet slim and impressively muscled, he danced like a dream, ably supported by the incredibly athletic Carlie Milner in the role of Penny Johnson, and a talented and energetic ensemble.

This was a fast-moving feelgood night out, with great music from the live band and an impressively high standard of dancing and all-round performance.

The only potential downsides were the catcalls from hen parties in the audience at Johnny’s one bit of near-nudity (a rearview rump in a flesh-coloured thong – hardly worth the wolfwhistles) and the inevitable queue for the ladies’ loos at a show with a largely female audience.

Box office 0844 871 7652 or ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes