Performing Arts

Theatre Review: Dirty Dancing

Director James Powell makes sure that die-hard fans of the 1987 classic movie are not disappointed, nor are newcomers to the Baby/Johnny love story.

Presented by John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCallum and Joye Entertainment in association with Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions
Reviewed 4 October 2015

This reviewer saw the World Premiere of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage in Sydney in 2004 and was a little disappointed with the artistic, minimalistic way it had been staged. What a difference 12 years and Broadway and the West End make!! The new incarnation now playing at the Adelaide Festival Centre is fresh, energetic, fast-paced and absolutely fantastic!

Baby-and-Johnny-c-Kurt-Sneddon-e1418052917151-1024x1024Director James Powell makes sure that die-hard fans of the 1987 classic movie are not disappointed, nor are newcomers to the Summer of 1963 and the Baby/Johnny love story. He recreates all of the well-known filmic scenes perfectly, with the blossoming love of the two leads handled particularly beautifully: and has added some wonderful little comedic touches (such as the scene in the van and in the swimming pool). Powell is determined to make the audience have the time of their lives and they do. The handling of the famous river scene is brilliant and don’t we all love it when we find out that ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’.

Choreographer Michelle Lynch has faithfully recreated the film’s scintillating dance routines, using a very impressive ensemble of dancers, making the numbers just explode off the stage.

As Johnny Castle, Kurt Phelan is machismo plus, but never bullying, with his swagger and loutish charm down pat. He exudes sex (and don’t the ladies love it!) and makes us all sit up and take notice.

DD_268_jimleepix-288x288Kirby Burgess is simply sublime as “Baby”. She gives the character a nice naivety without never once overdoing it. The audience is with her from the start. It’s always impressive to see an accomplished dancer appear gawky and clumsy, and Burgess carries this off nicely.

Penny Martin is the perfect 60s Mum and relates well with her on-stage family, especially with Adam Murphy as her husband, Dr Jake Houseman. Murphy is totally believable as a father who is caring but at the same time protective of his youngest daughter. The other member of the Houseman family, Lisa, is played hilariously by Teagan Wouters – her Hawaiian act, in particular, is comedy gold. Leggy Maddie Peat is an absolute knock-out as Johnny’s original dance partner, Penny; whilst James D Smith plays his cousin, Billy, humbly – and what a voice! Smith’s beautiful rendition of In The Still Of The Night is the best this reviewer has heard and more than worth the price of the most expensive ticket.

Don’t miss this dazzling Dirty Dancing!

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Venue: Adelaide Festival Theatre   Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 4 October – 1 November 2015
Duration: 2 hours 20 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $64.90 – $119.90



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