I had the pleasure of attending the Opening Night of Dirty Dancing in Melbourne this past Thursday night. This included the Media Launch (preview performance for photo/video ops, interviews etc) in the morning, followed by the Pink Carpet Arrivals that afternoon and the show that evening.
I will be doing a write up of some interesting bits and pieces from the Media Launch, but first, here is my little write up of my thoughts and feelings towards the show =D Under the cut, of course!
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I should firstly say that I don't remember the movie. I think I've seen it once or twice before but all memory of it has been wiped from my memory. Perhaps if I watched it again it would all come floating back - but I went into the musical not knowing much - if anything - of the story itself.
However, if you're looking to know how similar it is to the movie; my friend who attended the show with me, said that she enjoyed it a lot and said it was very similar to the movie. So it's likely that you won't be disappointed if you're a fan of the movie ... but I can only guess that this is true. The crowd seemed very taken by "iconic" moments - as in the "lift", "baby in the corner", watermelons etc.
Secondly, I want to call out Maddie Peat who plays Penny. What an absolute star! And such a lovely funny, sweet and charming person! She really does an amazing job playing the role - and her dancing just left me speechless! How does the body bend so far back?! See the first photo below ...
I do however like a show with a lot of costumes and sets, which this production does not have - although, being the kind of musical it is, it would be very odd if it did. A lot of projection work is used and used very well, I should add - especially during the times when Baby and Johnny are trying to master the "lift".
Actually, I should call out Kirby and Kurt for doing such a good job. I also liked their chemistry. Kirby is adorably sweet as the innocent Baby and Kurt does a nice job playing the misunderstood Johnny.
Mark Vincent, who plays Billy, also does a very nice job for his theatrical debut. What an amazing voice the boy does have! He steals the show with his rendition of In The Still Of The Night - although, to me, the song seems out of the place within the musical. It is slow and the whole musical seems to stand still when it's performed. Also, if it's a romance piece - it seemed to come from no where. I heard Mark speak of the meaning behind the song but to me, it just doesn't suit. But hey, that's me - but I should add that I could stand and watch Mark perform that song over and over and over again any day. It's simply beautiful.
All the singers do a very lovely job - I find no fault in anyone's performances at all. Even the pretend American accents are done very very well :) Oh, and bless Mark's heart for dancing. And I loved Teagan Wouters as Lisa when she's singing her Hula.
And, although it is odd that the leads don't sing, it doesn't stop one from enjoying the musical. It does however, make it weird when other key players sing - like Billy and Baby's parents. I would say it would work better to have it one way or another. Either, all characters sing or singing is left to the "performance" times - as in the talent show or during the band's set.
My friend and I were discussing at what age would we let our kids (if we had them) see this musical - as there is some language and sexual references - she said 10. I said 15 (my poor future kids). So parents, you may want to take caution.
I do find it a little funny that Dirty Dancing is playing alongside Strictly Ballroom - considering they are both very very similar in terms of its basic story. I mentioned this when I did my SB right up - and DD is definitely a dance musical instead of a sing-song musical - also - and is never my favourite kind. But it is very well done and I would recommend it for anyone who is a fan of the movie.
However, it you were choosing between the two - I would go see SB just because of the costumes, sets, the leads sing and also, due to the encouraged audience dancing participation. But DD does have its charms too :)
For ticket details go to: dirtydancingaustralia.com/