Dirty Dancing on Stage at New Theatre, Cardiff: A Review by Melissa Compton


The sensational Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage came to the New Theatre tonight as part of its UK and Ireland tour. Dirty Dancing has become so iconic it is hard to imagine how a stage show could live up to the hype, but Dirty Dancing on Stage goes further and enhances our experience of the original story.

It was both impressive and a relief that a lot of the film’s original dialogue has been kept in including the lines that make it famous such as “I carried a watermelon,” and “Nobody puts baby in a corner”. Although there are enough subtle enhancements to provide a completely new and unique experience such as the exploration into  Neil Kellerman’s wish to go freedom fighting.

The show opens to a scene of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman sat on a suitcase writing in a notebook with a stack on books to her right as she prepares to leave for Kellerman’s merged with dancers dancing around her mainly behind a curtain. One of the things that make this such a unique experience is the merger of dancing, acting, and backgrounds and brilliantly designed sets. The use of sound and music is delivered to achieve a desired effect. This is expertly demonstrated in the outdoor scenes which see Johnny Castle played by Michael O’Reilly teach Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman played by Kira Malou ‘lift’s’ with the acting behind a curtain and background art that makes the scene seem realistic paired with perfectly timed water sound effects.

Kira Malou gave an excellent performance as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and the completion of ‘Baby’s’ dance skills and confidence is clearly seen in the final scene of the first act. Kira also injects additional humor in all the right places and we see an extra dimension to Baby’s character. We also see the addition of humor in the character ‘Billy Kostecki’ played by Alex Wheeler. While the voice over and campfire scene reminds us that the setting is the time period of 1963. All Cast members gave outstanding performances dancing their hearts out, and as you would expect the characters of Penny, Johnny and Baby are the stars of the show. The character Penny was played by Simone Covele, who gave a great emotionally intensive performance while her dancing oozed with confidence and strength. Dance numbers around key scenes provide a powerful enhancement.

Eleanor Bergstein (Writer) managed to get permission for the extra tracks Stubborn Kind of Fellow by Marvin Gaye and Save the last dance for me by The Drifters which weren’t included in the original film.

This show is the perfect nostalgic experience for any Dirty Dancing Fan and perfect if you want to experience Dirty Dancing for the first time, with great dancing performances by all and the music tracks that make the film so popular. The Programme guide is stunning and a great keepsake.


Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage is at the New Theatre, Cardiff   4 – 8 June 2019.