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Liam Rudden: Strictly dirty dancing

A FLYING visit. Literally. That was my experience of Wales last week. In late on Thursday afternoon, out first thing Friday morning.

In between, I popped in to Cardiff’s Millennium Centre for a sneak preview of Dirty Dancing, which comes to the Playhouse for a festive run early next month.

Based on the movie of the same name, the show opens in the Capital on December 4, the start of an impressive six-week season. Not many productions manage that long these days, but Dirty Dancing comes with its pedigree already in place despite the fact that, as a show, it’s hard to define.

The story is simple enough, girl meets boy - they fall in love.

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is on holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents. Baby shows little interest in the resort activities, until she falls for Johnny Castle, the resort dance instructor.

She soon finds herself as his leading lady, both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.

All the elements of a good musical then... but Dirty Dancing is not a musical. It’s something quite different, a fast-paced mix of music from the era, short cinematic scenes and a host of brilliantly executed dance routines.

Indeed, Dirty Dancing, as the title suggests, is all about the dancing.

An almost bare stage with cleverly projected backdrops allowing for some stunning scene changes, against which the cast show off their steps.

As productions go, Dirty Dancing is beautiful to watch, the closest thing I’ve seen to a ‘live movie’. So, despite not being the world’s biggest dance fan, I’m happy to say, in the words of the singalong finale, that I’ve had the time of my life and am now looking forward to seeing the show again when it transfers to Edinburgh... not something I ever expected.

 

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