Friday, September 22

Dirty Dancing – Liverpool Empire

You are bound to have the time of your life with this current production of Dirty Dancing.

Telling the story of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and Johnny Castle, in the summer of 1963, Dirty Dancing is a classic and a film that pretty much every person on the planet has seen at some point in their lives. Which, in a way, makes it harder to transfer it onto the stage as authentically as possible. However, the current touring production of the show manages to do just that. Whilst some of the audience decided to treat it like a pantomime, where they pleased, the cast remained professional and the behaviour couldn’t detract from the performances on the stage.

Michael O’Reilly’s Johnny Castle, was definitely the hit of the night, with the ladies in the audience. From the Patrick Swayze-style hair and topless scenes, the more vocal female audience members were definitely pleased. However, it was his dancing skills that showed why he was in the role and wowed the majority of the crowd. Kira Malou had the innocence of Baby perfected and showed her growth throughout the show. The chemistry between the two main characters was palpable and the iconic dance rehearsal and routine scenes were pure class. For me, the stand-out performance of the night, was Georgia Aspinall as Penny Johnson. Her dancing and flexibility can only be described as off-the-scale. You felt for her during her harder scenes, then were in awe of how beautifully she danced – especially when paired with O’Reilly. The whole cast executed Austin Wilks’ choreography effortlessly and made you want to learn how to dance properly, so you could join in their fun!

Photo: Mark Senior

Lydia Sterling and Danny Colligan as Elizabeth and Billy, provided the majority of the vocals and neither hit a bum note. Their rendition of (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life was half of what the crowd had paid to see and it was truly a moment that you wished you could bottle and use to cheer you up. It was also refreshing to have actor/musicians as Kellerman’s band – it really added to the feel and fun of the show.

There were a couple of times during the evening where it seemed to take a moment for the lighting to catch up with the actors and scene changes, however it still didn’t take away from the performances – the audience were more of a hinderance than the lighting issues!

Dance your way to get yourself a ticket – you WILL have the time of your life!

Dirty Dancing is at the Liverpool Empire until 17th June – tickets are available from

Reviewer: Jenn McKean

Reviewed: 12th June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.