CARRY A WATERMELON TO CROWN
DIRTY Dancing is a member of the iconic film club where you can not imagine anyone but Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey as Johnny Castle and Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman.
So I remember feeling trepidation heading in to see the original Australian stage show of Dirty Dancing 10 years ago, starring Josef Brown and Kym Valentine.
But this was quickly proved unwarranted as the audience was swept into the summer of 1963 when the Housemans went to Kellerman’s.
I was similarly hesitant last Thursday when the show returned to Crown Theatre Perth, this time wondering if
leads Kurt Phelan and Kirby Burgess could rival their stage show predecessors. Thankfully, they could.
Burgess was Baby, a world away from Grease’s Rizzo which is how Perth audiences saw her last year, while Phelan had the hips of Johnny Castle and was not afraid to use them with a whole lot of swagger.
So You Think You Can Dance (Australia season 4) contestant Maddie Peat has legs for days and moved them with precision as Penny Johnson, often leaving the audience fearing she would knock herself out with those high kicks.
Dirty Dancing is not your traditional musical and is in fact carefully billed as The Classic Story On Stage, so there are few opportunities to experience a song belted out in style.
But when it was by Australia’s Got Talent tenor Mark Vincent (playing Billy Kostecki) during In the Still of the Night and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, the crowd went wild for good reason.
Technology has come a long way in 10 years and the revolving stage has been enhanced by digital projections and beach house shutter screens to set the mood and pace.
All the favourite songs are there, including Hungry Eyes, Love is Strange and Do You Love Me?, although She’s Like the Wind is relegated to a disappointing shorter instrumental version.
It was a vocal crowd on opening night watching as Baby carried a watermelon and anticipating all their favourite lines, which reached fever-pitch as it was declared that nobody puts Baby in the corner.
View our Dirty Dancing photo gallery at www.community news.com.au.
Kurt Phelan and Kirby Burgess.