Whenever I go to the theatre I am always amazed just what can be done with lights and sounds. These tools are so important when bringing a book or film alive on the stage. They have the power to make it rain or snow inside, to bring trains, planes and cars alive on the stage, and make us believe we are in the middle of a bustling city, quiet forest or outerspace. With lights and sound effects the impossible becomes possible, and you can transport your audience wherever you want.
This was really shown during the performance of Dirty Dancing, which I saw at the Bristol Hippodrome. Everyone knows the film, and in particular the iconic scene where Baby is lifted out of the water by Johnny. It’s such an important scene, that it couldn’t be missed out of the stage version. But how do you get a lake on stage?! This is where the cleverness of lights and sounds come in. The effect of shimmering lights and a sheer curtain created the lake, while the sounds of water and splashing added to it. Granted, everyone in the audience knew that it wasn’t a real lake, and that they were just landing on crash matts behind the curtain, by I was impressed by the way they set the scene up, and if you were lost in the moment you could transport yourself to that lake in the mountains.
I (along with almost every female in the audience) certainly approved of the casting for Johnny. Lewis Griffiths had a lot to live up to – it can’t have been easy to follow in the footsteps of PatrickSwayze. But he managed it. Lewis can certainly dance, and shake his booty, which he did at every opportunity. But judging by the cheers and whistles from the audience they were not complaining! He also bares a lot of his body, so ladies if you are heading to see this show then you have that to look forward to!
Baby was played by Katie Eccles, who portrayed the young daddies girl perfectly. She worked well with Lewis, and they seemed to fit together. Katie is also a great dancer, and it takes talent for a great dancer to pretend they are not (when Baby is learning to dance). And I was so pleased when right at the end of the show, after the iconic line ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’, they did that famous lift.
Carlie Milner did a great job playing the troubled Penny, and my heart broke for her during the scene following the abortion. She showed just what it must have been like for unmarried young women in that time who found themselves pregnant and alone.
The dancing, as you would expect, was dynamic. Helped along by all the classic tunes found in the film. The dancers were impressive, breaking out the high speed routines and making it look effortless.
Thank you to the cast and to the Bristol Hippodrome for transporting me to Kellermans, and bringing to life one of my all time favourite films. I highly recommend this show!