I’ve had the time of my life as Dirty Dancing returns to The Regent Theatre

Well, I’ve had the time of my life as Dirty Dancing made a welcome return to The Regent Theatre this week. Based on the iconic 1987 film, the classic story has been seen by millions of people across the globe and brought to life in this smash hit stage stage show.

The set design immediately transports the audience to the summer of 1963 at Kellerman’s Resort – an all-inclusive, up-market lakeside holiday escape, where every detail is meticulously crafted to offer the nostalgic ambiance of the 1960s as we are welcomed to the show with a rendition of This Magic Moment.

In this fast-paced production, introductions are quick as we meet The Houseman’s, The Kellerman’s and the key characters of the show such as Penny, spectacularly played by Georgia Aspinall, before embarking on the tale of love and self discovery.

And it’s not long before Mr Johnny Castle swaggers onto the set with his slick back hair, sunglasses and leather jacket, looking more like Patrick Swayze than Patrick Swayze did.

Mark Senior

This tour sees Michael O’Reilly reprise the role where he made his professional debut, and he couldn’t be better cast. He stepped back into the shoes of Johnny Castle with a magnetic energy – his powerful stage presence and impeccable dancing skills are as though he was born to play this role. Michael effortlessly conveys Johnny’s journey from a guarded dance instructor to a passionate partner with the required rugged charm and underlying vulnerability. 

At the very heart of Dirty Dancing lies in the electrifying chemistry between Baby and Johnny, and Kira Malou and Michael O’Reilly exceeded all expectations. Their performances offered a palpable connection that was nothing short of magical and moving to watch.

Kira superbly captured Baby’s naivety, curiosity, and ultimate transformation with grace and authenticity. She navigated the character’s journey with just the right amount of vulnerability and determination, and her effervescent energy was utterly infectious. 

Mark Senior

It can’t go unmentioned that Georgia Aspinall, as Penny, was a dream to watch, completely captivating the audience with her seemingly effortless moves and performance prowess. As a dancer, she is unrivalled, but it’s the tender scenes between her and Johnny, alongside scenes where she takes Baby under her wing, which convey her emotion and humanity in such a moving way that makes you adore her character even more.

In addition to the stellar performances, the choreography was a spectacle in itself, flawlessly capturing the dynamic energy and sensuality that Dirty Dancing is renowned for, while the music – an integral part of Dirty Dancing’s charm – was wonderfully executed by the on-stage band. 

The iconic songs we all know and love were delivered brilliantly with faultless vocals, soulful saxophone and bass through classics like Hungry Eyes, and I’ve Had The Time of My Life, during which Michael bursts through the auditorium bringing with him a wave of emotion before the memorable final dance number. The iconic lift was executed with apparent ease, evoking nostalgia while feeling as though we were watching the story unfold for the very first time again. O’Reilly looked taken aback as the entire auditorium rose for a standing ovation, but it was so very well deserved and hard won.

Mark Senior

Dirty Dancing  – the classic story on stage is an unforgettable production with a remarkable cast. Kira Malou and Michael O’Reilly’s outstanding performances were the beating heart of this extraordinary stage show filled with passion, electric chemistry and stunning performances, serving as a testament to the much-loved 80s film as it continues to captivate generations of theatre-goers.

Dirty Dancing is on at The Regent Theatre until Saturday, July 8. Get your tickets here.

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