Dirty Dancing – Review – Bradford Alhambra

Dirty Dancing 2018 Bradford

By @Steve Crabtree, January 2019

Bradford have the summer of 1963 going on this week. And if you’re in to sexy dance moves and lots of songs, you’ll enjoy Dirty Dancing.

We’re welcomed in to the Alhambra by that unmistakable Dirty Dancing logo, with a shimmer of pink spot lights. And as the show begins, we’re straight in to the music and movement that you’d expect, as near enough the whole cast make an appearance on stage.

Dirty Dancing 2018 Bradford

“Gelled together nicely”

Leading the Dirty Dancing, the ripped, hunky Michael O’Reilly impressed the ladies as Johnny Castle, and had their hearts going gu-gun. and got stronger as the show went on. Kira Malou as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman was perfect for the role too. They gelled together nicely – be it in dance scenes, tense scenes or love scenes. Especially love scenes…!

And I liked how their story was backed by an impressive set up, with scenery that changed rapidly merely by spinning round to cleverly take us to different places. We were outside the hotel, but with one turn in the restaurant or dancehall. The front door of the Houseman’s accommodation quickly became the girl’s bedroom. It let Dirty Dancing flow, particularly the faster paced second half.

There was drama in Dirty Dancing. And emotion. And lots of knicker flashing too! But moreover, I thought there were some brilliant, and occasionally unexpected comedy moments thrown in there as well. Baby attempting to dance with Johnny for the first time brings chuckles. And Lizzie Ottway superbly makes us laugh in all she does as Baby’s sister Lisa.

Dirty Dancing 2018 Bradford


“A powerful voice”

And there are roars of laughter from the audience during the scene in the river as they try to do that lift.  That, and the way that scene is done is the bit to look out for if you’re going to see the show. By using a translucent screen and some great effects – it was very clever. In fact they use the screen a number of times to great effect.

If you’re a fan of musical numbers, Dirty Dancing has them in abundance. ‘In The Still Of The Night’ by Billy Kostecki (played superbly by Alex Wheeler) was the stand-out song of the 51 for me. But the best vocal of the night came from the outstanding Sian Gentle-Green in the role of Elizabeth. She’d shown what a powerful voice she has throughout and took the female vocal on ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ at the end of the show. She did it a hell of a lot of justice alongside the also impressive Wheeler.

Dirty Dancing 2018 Bradford

“Feel good moment”

And it was with that song that we were given the pinnacle of the show. The end of season dance. And we finally saw that lift! The audience cheered and applauded as Johnny lifted Baby above his head, and turned her towards us. It was a real feel good moment, and led us in to the end of a really great, strong performance.

Despite all the numbers, the amazing cast rattled through each one and they loved every single one of them. That rubbed off on us watching – it’s always great to see the actors genuinely enjoying what they’re doing.

I haven’t seen the film that much over the years, but I think Dirty Dancing the musical stayed true to the big screen version.  A very slick act two, and a great show that you can’t help but really enjoy.


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