On 11 August the UK tour of Dirty Dancing opens in Blackpool. However, before it opens in the UK, there’s a run at the Kursaal in Ostend Belgium. MTAS Admin DJ dropped in to have a sneak peak before it hits the UK.
Every year for the last six years, international tours have been coming to Ostend. Living in Belgium, I don’t get to see that many big productions in my home country. That’s why it’s always great to see an international production. After Riverdance, Mamma Mia, Cats, Evita and Mamma Mia again, this year it was Dirty Dancing’s turn.
I had never actually seen the movie, but I know about the famous ‘lift’, and of course the hit song “(I’ve had) The time of my life”. I went in not really knowing what to expect, except that they were probably going to dance in a dirty fashion. And so they did. The dancing was amazing. I have so much respect for those dancers. It takes a lot of trust and professionalism in order to perfectly execute some of those spectacular dance routines. And let me just say, you’ll have to wait a long while for the famous lift, but it’s worth the wait.
On top of the dancing aspect, all of the performers were top notch actors. The acting was very natural, and they all
were at one with their respective characters. In the acting department, the standout performances were by Lewis Griffiths as Johnny Castle and Katie Hartland as Baby. They really drew the audience into their story. Lewis’ Johnny is the prototype of a macho, but one who also has a soft side once you get to know him. Katie perfectly portrayed Baby as an awkward young woman who slowly turns into a confident person. It also takes a special kind of talent for a good dancer to dance like a third rate amateur in the early scenes, only to dance like a pro near the end of the show.
An honourable mention in the acting department goes to Robert Colvin as Robbie. He’s so good at playing a scumbag that I almost wanted to climb on stage and punch him in the face.
As I said above, the dancing is wonderful and the acting is great. The entire cast and onstage band were just perfect. I don’t think there’s any way they could have made this cast any better. However, there’s something off about the show itself. There’s a lot of very short scenes. It’s as if you were watching a movie instead of a stage show. But that’s just a small problem.
The slightly bigger problem is that you can’t really call this a musical. Yes, there is music in it. But most of the cast don’t even sing, except for one or two short moments were most of the cast sing together for maybe ten seconds. Johnny and Baby don’t sing any song of their own, nor do most of the other characters. Being in the process of writing a musical myself, I have sort of a sixth sense for “spotting songs”. That means spotting the moment in a musical where a character is about to sing a song. There were at least a handful of moments were I thought one of the characters was about to break into song, only to just see them leave the stage. I think that’s the shows only real problem.
Most of the singing is disguised as “the band playing a song while people dance”. And the majority of the singing was carried by three cast members: Daniela Pobega (Elizabeth), Michael Kent (Billy Kostecki) and Jo Servi (Tito Suarez/Kellerman’s band/piano). Those three provided some spine tingling vocals. As I am a big fan of amazing singing, Daniela Pobega was the star of the show for me. And if my musical ever gets finished an produced I’d be over the moon if I could get an actress and singer who’s only half as talented as Daniela Pobega.
Overall, it was a wonderful show. Don’t let the lack of real musical theatre numbers stop you. It has a great story, amazing dancing, and there’s no way you’ll ever find a better cast than this one for this particular show.
Final verdict: Because I thought the cast was better than the show itself, I’ll split it into two different categories.
The show: 3/5 vs Cast Performance: 5/5 = Overall Total: 4/5
Dirty Dancing will tour until well into 2017 and will visit cities in the UK and Ireland. For tickets and further info, please visit: http://dirtydancingontour.com/home