Thursday, July 7

Dirty Dancing – Hull New Theatre

Bloomin’ ‘eck! Michael O’Reilly, you have left me speechless.

Let me explain. This fine figure of a man (nah, change that to sex on legs), is one of the stars of Dirty Dancing and it was mainly his actions on the stage of the packed Hull New Theatre on Tuesday night that left us in the spellbound audience shouting for more.

O’Reilly plays the part of dancer Johnny Castle, a role made famous by Patrick Swayze in the 1987 movie of the same name. And he certainly does the role justice.

All the action takes place at Kellerman’s Resort in the US. It’s the summer of 1963 and Frances “Baby” Houseman (Kira Malou) is on holiday there with her family.

This innocent teen soon finds herself drawn into a world very different from the one she has been brought up in.

Dancing to the resort band each night, alongside her parents, is not her idea of fun and one night she happens upon a waiter, whom she persuades to take her to where the action is.

It’s in the dimly lit atmosphere of Millers, that she witnesses dancing that not only shocks her, but excites her, too. It’s nothing like the staid waltzes she’s been made to endure so far on the holiday.

It’s in this behind-closed-doors scenario that Baby meets people she would never normally associate with.

One of them is dancer Penny (an unbelievably talented Carlie Milner) who, finding herself pregnant by one of the waiters, needs money to pay for an abortion. Baby naively offers to help Penny, even going so far as to asking her dad for the $250 needed (without telling him what the money is for).

Penny and Johnny are the star dancers at the resort, but with Penny out of action for a while, she suggests Baby learns her moves to partner Johnny.

What ensues are many laugh-out-loud moments as Baby tries her best to learn the routine. And the one thing she just can’t get right is the lift – that unforgettable moment in the movie where Swayze lifts is co-star Jennifer Grey aloft.

This particular scene on the night was hilarious. Supposedly taking place in water, Baby collapses repeatedly on top of Johnny (the lucky girl), and it isn’t until the end of the show that we learn if she ever perfects the move.

Of course, there’s much, much more going on than the antics of these two, but their involvement is the main attraction. And near the end of the show, when Johnny runs down the aisle, jumps on to the stage and in his gravelly American drawl utters the now-famous words “nobody puts Baby in a corner”, the audience erupted. We’d waited all night to hear those words.

Everyone on the stage played his/her part in bringing the iconic movie to life. Their obvious joy at performing was a pleasure to witness and made me forget the pretty basic and disappointing stage setting.

Super-talented musicians and singers treated us to dozens of fabulous tunes, culminating in the one we all joined in with at the end – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

Certainly a night to remember!

Running until Saturday, October 23rd, 2021; 7.30pm nightly on Tuesday, 19th to Thursday, 21st; 5pm and 8.30pm on Friday, 22nd; 3pm and 7.30pm on Saturday, 23rd. Tickets from £20. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 19th October 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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