Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Edinburgh Playhouse. Saturday night. Chardonnay at the ready. Air thick with perfume. Lips thick with lip gloss. Many many chiffon blouses in the house. Not so many men in the house. Curtain up on Dirty Dancing

I was full of hope. We watched the film before we left the house. (And when we got back.) I can clearly picture Baby in my mind. And I can hear Patrick murmuring "nobody puts Baby in the corner" as if he were sat on the seat of the bus next to me this very minute. The songs make me yearn with nostalgia for I don't even know what as the film was released when I was too young to yearn. And yet I've grown up on it and it's tranquil world view. And I want its story for my own.  

The stage show is like a seething box of maggots. Plump thriving maggots admittedly but maggots nonetheless. Not helped by the fact that they (what?) can't get rights for / can't afford / didn't want to use all of the original soundtrack. Perhaps because then the great (singing) gifts of the cast would be wasted.

So some poor person has had the thankless task of writing replacement songs for nightly audiences of 3,000 women who just want to see the movie on stage. The newly created songs are fine.  Weird of course, as Dirty Dancing is emphatically not a musical. They're fine nonetheless. But JUST NOT the songs we wish to hear.

And every now and again, a little tease, when they couldn't avoid it ("She's like the wind"), they play one of the soundtrack songs over the speaker system. 

So you have a lively healthy band sitting in the pit, periodically springing into action - and a handful of pre-recorded tracks. Like a dog who has his dinner strewn in disarray all over the floor.

The cast, inevitably, all look not quite right. "Patrick Swayze" is too tall and dark. And isn't the best actor I've ever seen. But he's there for his hips so I suppose that's not his fault. The parents are nice enough but wrong. Baby's sister is pert and pretty but lacks the look of the fool. Penny, Johnny's ill-fated dance partner, looks the business and has legs the length of the Forth Road Bridge. But also is slightly limited in acting ability. (Oh, hark at me.)

But but but. The dancing is wonderful. We took a passel of children and they all came out bursting to go to dancing lessons. I came out vowing that this time, this time, dance classes would lead to my becoming a dancing star.

The dresses are stunning. (I'm after the black sparkly one for myself.)

And the staging, while a little clodhopping, doffed a tongue-in-cheek cap to the film with some smart scrimmage (and a plump mattress??) to show the balancing on the log scene and the all girls favourite lake scene. 

More importantly than all of that, Baby was gorgeous. Just properly Baby-ish. Despite her two dimensional surroundings, you really (I really) urgently wished that she wouldn't be relegated to the corner. So hats off to her.

And despite all my scornful supercilious words, I did consider going back the following week. And I would go and see it many times more, just for the delicious delight of being able to thump Cari on the arm and squeal (in an auditorium worthy whisper) "this is this bit!!!!! Eeeeek!"

Such moments are priceless.


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