Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A trip to see Dirty Dancing in the West End.

What did you do last night? Dirty Dancing was on TV. Did you watch it? I myself did not, because I was somewhat preoccupied watching it on stage in the West End. Don't worry, I recorded it. Phew.

Dirty Dancing is such an iconic film. As soon as you hear the opening chord of (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, you think of it. If anyone mentions 'the Dirty Dancing lift', we all know what they're talking about.

But of course, not all films translate well into stage productions, let alone musicals. Somewhat shockingly, I've only seen the film once, so I was excited but also slightly intrigued when I found out I'd been offered tickets to see Dirty Dancing in the West End. *squeal*

Unsurprisingly, my lovely friend, Ellie, jumped at the chance to come with me, and we decided to make the most of our train tickets to London with a little day in the capital.

We moseyed round Covent Garden, browsing the market and cute boutiques and treating ourselves to a cheeky Ben's Cookies fix - they're just so doughy and delicious, aren't they?

A stroll past Nelson's Column and Big Ben
Now Ellie is far more knowledgeable about the art world than yours truly, so she offered to take me to the Portland Gallery, where she's interned twice. I'm no art buff, but I really liked what I saw. They're just getting ready for a David Spiller exhibition, and I thought his work was fantastic!

Back to Covent Garden we went for a pre-show dinner, popping into a cute pop-up shop en route. Readers, we went to Shake Shack.

I've been keen to try out the famed American restaurant since it opened in London a couple of months ago, and it did not disappoint. Simple burgers and crinkly chips, but oh-so-delicious. Perhaps best of all was their frozen custard concrete. It's sort of like a cross between ice cream and froyo, but extra creamy. I went for the Concrete Jungle: vanilla frozen custard blended up with peanut butter sauce, marshmallow sauce and banana. Dayum, it was good.

But enough about food, it's show time!

Dirty Dancing is currently on at the Piccadilly Theatre, and it's pink, pink, pink from the get-go. (I loved this, natch.) Ellie and I were total keen beans so got to the theatre super early, but that just meant we had time to read the programme we were kindly given beforehand. Always helpful.

Soon, it was time to take our seats, and oh, how lucky we were with them - in the stalls, central, a mere four or five rows from the front. It was perfect.

Dirty Dancing is a fabulously feel-good show. We saw it at a very appropriate time too - the story is set in August 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr made his famous 'I have a dream' speech, of which the world has just celebrated the 50th anniversary. I loved the 60s costumes too - full-skirted dresses, high-waisted denim shorts and little crop tops (all showing off the dancers' amazing figures.)

It tells the story of Baby Houseman, the innocent teenager who goes on a voyage of discovery during her summer at a holiday resort, and Jill Winternitz played the role superbly, in my opinion. Brilliantly naive, but in a relatable rather than annoying way.

Baby and Johnny
Both the lead roles looked almost uncannily like their film counterparts, and the chemistry between them was amazingly believable too. I'm pretty sure every woman in the audience came out of the theatre fancying Johnny Castle (played by Paul-Michael Jones.) Well, him and Penny (played by Charlotte Gooch) - I was warned in advance that I'd leave wanting her legs. Yeah, that happened.

But Penny wasn't the only dancer showing off her amazingly supple, toned legs - there were high kicks a-plenty from the whole cast. Somewhat astoundingly, every chorus member follows a unique line of choreography throughout the show. Half the time, there's almost too much going on, you don't know where to look! That said, when Penny and Johnny dance together, they certainly draw the attention - I couldn't take my eyes off the pair.

If you think the dancing on Strictly is good, you simply have to go and see this. The dance routines blew me away! And up close, it has even more of an impact. Most musicals have a couple of show-stopping dance numbers, but with Dirty Dancing it's just one jaw-dropping routine after another. You'd think the name would have given it away, but somehow it didn't quite click for me beforehand that Dirty Dancing was going to be all about, well, dancing. #idiot

There's actually minimal singing, and Dirty Dancing isn't a musical in the typical sense where characters sing their feelings. If Baby had suddenly burst into song, crying out her love for Johnny, I think it would've added a real cringe-factor. I don't think the lead roles actually sang at all! Songs were written into the show, but they were songs of the era, which really worked.

As it's all about the dancing, the show didn't seem to lack huge vocal numbers. And with the iconic (I've Had) The Time Of My Life finishing off the production, the audience were all left singing to ourselves. In fact, I've had the song in my head since!

Being part of a fun audience really adds to the atmosphere of the show - we all whooped at the famous lines 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner!', felt nervous before the lift, and cheered when it was perfectly executed. As the cast took their curtain call, we were all on our feet, clapping, cheering and dancing just a little bit ourselves - standing ovations all round.

Is it the sort of show that's going to make you question the meaning of life? No. But good Lord is it going to leave you feeling happy. There was comedy, romance, great songs, AMAZING dancing and sure, the odd moment that made even me cringe. But at its heart, Dirty Dancing is pure, uplifting, entertaining fun. I loved it.

Dirty Dancing is on at the Piccadilly Theatre until Saturday 22 February 2014, and a UK tour will launch in March 2014. For all the info, go to

Thanks to everyone at LD Communications for so generously offering me the tickets!


  1. I'm just envious of this entire day!

    I have access to go every day to the theatre, but unfortunately my other half can't stand musicals :(

    Hmm maybe...

    1. Ha ha thanks Emma.
      Oh no! Well if you really can't drag him along, just go with a girlfriend! :)


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