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'Time of My Life' at Dirty Dancing show
Steve Kitchen
Kitch practises his 'please let me in' smile
Last updated: 07 December 2004 1644 GMT
line BBC Gloucestershire's Steve Kitchen was lucky enough to get his hands on a ticket for the world premiere of the stage adaptation of his favourite film, Dirty Dancing.
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Your video tape is grainy and thin, the writing has worn off your DVD copy – but don’t worry, Dirty Dancing the stage show is on its way…..and I should know, I was at the World Premiere at the Theatre Royal in Sydney, Australia.

OK, I’m a big ugly bloke who likes a beer and the football, but my favourite film is Dirty Dancing so I was thrilled to have the chance to see if it could transfer to the stage whilst on a break Down Under – and what an experience.

As I walked down the red carpet into the theatre, the snaporazzi’s flash bulbs were going crazy.

However, before I had the chance to dip the shoulder and dazzle my best smile I realised that a bronzed and beautiful Rebecca Cartwright (Hayley from Home and Away) was following me in a figure-hugging red dress. It was a night for the who’s who of Aussie stage and screen, and me.

Emotional

I remember every teenage girl growing up in the early 90’s wanting to be Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, to be whisked off her feet and educated by a hunky Johnny Castle.

The lucky girl to play the naïve lead role was Kym Valentine (Libby from BBC TV’s Neighbours to you and me).

Queues outside the theatre
Queueing around the block

Kym was the only household face for a travelling Brit, and I couldn’t fail to notice how much she was enjoying herself as an enthused audience cheered, laughed and cried with her all the way through an emotional journey.

Johnny was played by a taller Patrick Swayze lookalike, Josef Brown. His dancing was exceptional, and although his American accent slipped at times he more than did the part justice. He had the ladies in the audience swooning as his six-pack rippled, and whooping as he delivered the vital line, “Nobody puts baby in the corner.”

Hits

Dirty Dancing isn’t Dirty Dancing without the music (the soundtrack has sold over 39 million copies) and as the lights dimmed, and the first notes were struck, I knew that the songs were going to be even more important on the stage.

Dirty Dancing is not a musical, but it is a production with great music that helps to maintain a real sense of pace.

The story has so many different locations, but the production was very clever in overcoming this problem.

A minimalist set on a rotating stage was aided by a full length moving digital screen to set scenes rather than create them. The screen is also used to show the audience whispered dialogue, and even sing-along lyrics in the finale.

Goosebumps

From the moment the audience arrived they seemed to be baying to see “that final lift”, and that’s the key to the shows success.

By bringing Dirty Dancing to the stage, you get the chance to take part in that last all-important scene. You stand and clap as Johnny prowls around Baby with his fellow dancers to the soundtrack of Time of My Life.

Then you get ‘live’ goosebumps as he gives her the nod to run into his arms and be launched, and held high over his head.

I may have been on my holidays in Australia, but already I can’t wait for Dirty Dancing to hit London’s West End. It may see some tweaks during its travels, but there’s no doubting that you, like me, will have ‘The Time of Your Life’.

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