Dominion Theatre, London
Written by Eleanor Bergstein
Directed by Federico Bellone
For the next 3 months the staged take of the 1987 classic movie plays at London’s Dominion Theatre.
The story is a latter day fable that in all honesty doesn’t translate perfectly to the stage. As much as the movie was about Patrick Swayze’s perfectly formed Johnny teaching Jennifer Grey’s Baby the moves through a 1963 summer in the Catskill Mountains, along with its shallow commentary on society's attitudes and politics of the time, it was also all about the close-ups. Up there on the big screen, Swayze melted hearts and moistened panties. On stage however, Michael O’Reilly’s impressive Johnny is dwarfed in the Dominion’s vastness - and stripped of the magic and glitz of the Hollywood movie treatment, the Kellerman’s Resort doesn’t convincingly translate to a rainy West End.
But the packed audience are there for the song and dance as well as the storyline’s corny cheese and this show does not disappoint. O’Reilly, (100% beefcake) and Kira Malou as Baby are sensational, with movement and poise that is as well-drilled as it is passionate. Their supporting company make a fine job of driving the movie's narrative, virtually scene by scene, seamlessly.
The music is a curious juke-box assembly of American rock and pop gems, delivered as a combo of original recording and some live performance work from the onstage 6-piece band. Its a neat idea that delivers a gorgeous sound.
Fans of the movie will surely have the time of their life.
Runs until 29th April, then tours
Photo credit: Mark Senior