[4_stars ]

Cast: Jill Winternitz, Paul-Michael Jones, Nicky Griffiths, Colin Charles, James Coombes, Stefan Menaul.

Dirty Dancing comes to Liverpool Empire as part of its first national UK tour, following its successful five year run in the West End. The hit show, which has been viewed by nearly two million people, is based on the classic film of the same name.

The plot follows Baby (Jill Winternitz); whilst on a family holiday, she discovers a staff party and the resorts’ dance instructor, Johnny (Paul-Michael Jones).  Baby’s life changes when she is required to become Johnny’s dance partner .

Obviously, there is some apprehension whether a stage version of such a classic film could ever live up to the standards set by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, but this production leaves audiences pleasantly surprised. Winternitz and Jones have great chemistry on stage, which is important in creating a believable relationship the audience can throw themselves behind.

Also a revelation was the performance of Stefan Menaul, who played Neil Kellerman, the holiday park owner’s son. On his professional debut, he injected  comedy in to the musical and stole the show, receiving one of the biggest ovations of the evening.

Another element which is most certainly worth a mention is the way in which the musical uses its scenery and props. It is particularly spectacular during the scene in which Baby and Johnny practice their lift in the lake. For those planning to see the musical, it is a beautiful sight.

As to be expected, the lively audience was anticipating the ending sequence and that iconic lift. It did not disappoint; almost everyone in attendance was on their feet dancing to (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, swooning over Johnny and wanting to do that lift.

It’s easy to see why the show is such a success: the dancing is flawless and exciting to watch, the songs are well-known and  it is based on an extremely popular film – definitely worth going to see!

Image from ATG Tickets website.