Dirty Dancing made all the wrong moves. As a musical it’s deficient and as a piece of theatre it’s so inept I almost developed lockjaw from two hours of solid gaping.
To be fair, the audience of mostly 30-something women wanted to marry it. There was whooping, group sighs, a standing ovation, the whole goddamn shebang.
Presumably they were happy because they got what they came for -“ which was to see one of their favourite movies but in a slightly different environment.
They weren’t there to see theatre. They couldn’t have been there to see theatre. Theatre died that night.
Here’s why. Firstly, it’s a musical in which none of the lead characters sing any of the songs. It’s reasonable to expect that in a stage version of Dirty Dancing, the guy playing Jonny would sing She’s Like The Wind and Hungry Eyes -“ however much that might actually blow.
Secondly, the play was written by Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote the screenplay. Consequently, the stage version is played exactly like a film -“ some scenes are only two lines long and some teeter in pointless silence.
Finally, Mark Wing-Davey couldn’t direct a compass to point north. Dirty Dancing was the closest thing to the mock-musical Red White And Blaine (from the film Waiting For Guffman) I have ever seen.
When Penny Johnson (Nadia Coote) goes missing, concerned co-stars become momentarily blind, running past her not once but three times.
There’s a long revolving platform onstage which is hysterical because actors are forced to walk to one end, pause, then turn around and walk back in order to fill in time. It has all the dramatic impact of wooden soldiers trotting out to bang the chime in a Swiss clock.
Wing-Davey also uses video projection to explain to audiences what is actually happening right in front of them. When characters are served dinner, peas and gravy are flashed on the screen above them. When Jonny (Josef Brown) walks out in a huff, his boots strut off in cinemascope.
It’s a mess. If you must, rent the DVD instead.