Dirty Dancing – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre

Dirty Dancing – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre main

By Christine Goode, June 2023

Inspired by the hit 1987 film, Dirty Dancing is now on tour, fresh from the West End, and as an excited crowd descend on Leeds Grand theatre to watch this iconic story, there is a buzz of excitement in the air because everyone expects to be in for a great night. Whether you are a seasoned fan or have never seen the story, be prepared to fall in love with this production.

Set in 1963 when America was optimistically entering a new era, Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and her family set off on their annual vacation to Kellermans holiday resort, high up in the Catskills.

Bored of the wholesome activities on offer, she befriends Billy who introduces her to a ‘different scene’ to the holidaymaker’s usual entertainment and she becomes entangled with staff members, falls in love with the resident dance instructor and has the time of her life.

Dirty Dancing – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre 2023

“Exceptional vocals”

Kira Malou (Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman) and Michael O’Reilly (Johnny Castle) play the romantic duo who fall in love. Both have an uncanny resemblance to the film’s original stars Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze (as do the rest of the cast). They have an electric chemistry between them that sizzles throughout the entire show and transfers though to the audience, undoubtedly making them swoon in unison at the killer physiques and impeccable dance routines. The supporting cast are all outstanding in their own right. Georgia Aspinall (Penny Johnson) is superb and totally mesmerizing, her technique, lines, poise, and characterization is so believable you cannot take your eyes of her.

With exceptional vocals from both Lydia Sterling (Elizabeth) and Yorkshire born Danny Colligan (Billy Kostecki) their characters bring an extra joy to each scene. Again, Colin Charles (Tito Suarez) brings his incredible voice, charm, and wit as the lead singer of Kellermans band. Daisy Steere (Lisa Houseman) brings humour to the show as baby’s older sister. The ensemble cast are all fabulous and the dance numbers and quick changes are flawless.

Costume designer Jennifer Irwin has captured the era beautifully with fun, cute holiday day outfits to sumptuous glittering evening wear. Set designer Federico Bellone creates an impressive spectacle, with a country club, lake, golf course and a very intelligently designed scene for when we see Johnny and Baby practising the quintessential lift.

Dirty Dancing – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre

“Iconic lift”

Whilst watching this incredible production, you realize that these amazing actors and dancers are not performing to recorded tracks, and that band is in fact part of the production as well and not seated either off stage or in the orchestra pit as in most other shows. The way they move around during different scenes whilst playing instruments and acting is unbelievable, they also change scene and costumes seamlessly.

The whoops and cheers are deafening when we see the long-awaited iconic lift at the end from Johnny and Baby, along with a standing ovation from a delighted audience. This truly is an amazing night out to have with friends, and like the audience will leave you singing along on the way home and reminding you why we all love Dirty Dancing so much!

‘Dirty Dancing’ is at Leeds Grand Theatre, 6th – 10th June


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