Review: Dirty Dancing at Norwich’s Theatre Royal

Tickets for the musical were like gold dust, and sold out almost instantly. Here our reporter PETER WALSH reviews the performance at Norwich Theatre Royal, but did he have the time of his life?

Dirty Dancing is a production that continues to enthral and captivate audiences a quarter of a century after the smash hit film was released.

So successful was the film that the inevitable stage production followed – and it was a touring version of the show, which opened in the West End in 2006, that visitors to Norwich's Theatre Royal flocked to see last night.

Dancing, thanks to shows like Strictly, is more popular than ever, but it was the likes of Patrick Swayze who helped make it cool. Swayze's death in 2009 was a tragedy, but it has helped ensure that his most memorable movie role has not been forgotten, even 25 years on.

Paul-Michael Jones, who represented Britain at Latin American and ballroom dance in the world championships in Singapore, filled Swayze's never-to-be forgotten shoes as Johnny Castle in this stage version of the show.

His face resembled a cross between Swayze and Kevin Bacon – who starred in another 80s dancing classic Footloose – but it was his well-toned figure that most members of the audience were focused upon throughout his confident and assured performance.

Alongside him was Jill Winternitz as Frances 'Baby' Houseman who excelled as the good-hearted youngster who, through Johnny, found her 'feeling' during a trip to the Catskills in 1963.

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The duo rightly received many of the accolades at the end of the performance which brought a standing ovation from many of those watching, but the rest of the cast, including Nicky Griffiths (Penny Johnson), Emilia Williams (Lisa Houseman) and Stefan Menaul (Neil Kellerman) were also on top form.

Put the cast together with the smouldering sets and a knock-out soundtrack, which included hits like Hungry Eyes and (I've Had) The Time of My Life, and you were left with a sharp and slick riot of rhythm, dance and energy not to be missed.

Dirty Dancing runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, September 15. For tickets, call 01603 630000.