‘Dirty Dancing the Musical’ landed at our prestigious New Theatre Cardiff last night and what a storm it brought with it!

Based on the iconic ‘Dirty Dancing’ movie and currently performing a UK tour, I was taken on a magical journey, that felt extremely special.

I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the second row, so had a wonderful view and was able to take in the full production, from an incredibly close distance.

Starring Michael O’Reilly as ‘Johnny’ and Kira Malou as ‘Frances’ (Baby), the production took us back to the swinging 1960s, 1963 to be precise and really succeeded all my expectations.

For those of you that haven’t seen the iconic film ( I can’t imagine many that haven’t) released in the late 80s, it tells the story of ‘Johnny’ and ‘Baby’ that are socially worlds apart, but are soon brought together by the power of dance and eventually fall in love with one another, although many obstacles try to keep them apart! But in the end as the old saying goes “True Love Conquers all”.

‘Malou’ showcased incredible acting and dance skills, which really made her portrayal of ‘baby’ extremely believable, whilst adding a certain innocence to the character, which is clearly displayed in the film. ‘Malou’ also brought a welcoming humour to the character, which the audience loved.

The dashing ‘O’Reilly’ who played Johnny was sensational and I would go as far as saying, that he showcased the best portrayal of ‘Johnny’ I have ever seen. O’Reilly’s dance skills were exceptional and actually astounded me at times. Many of the audience members were fixated on his striking appearance, but I looked beyond that, into his actual acting and dancing abilities, throughout the production and was throughly impressed. I actually know that O’Reilly has been a professional dancer for some time, his credits include ‘Magic Mike Live’ and performing as a dancer for “Demi Levato” at the ‘MTV Music Awards’. These achievements again shone though into his performance.

I was honoured to have been able to witness his portrayal of ‘Johnny’ and genuinely believe that the late ‘Patrick Swayze’ would have been happy for him to carry on his legacy, playing this iconic role.

The production set was very well made and the stage lighting really complimented it well. I’d like to congratulate the production team for this, as it was an excellent display of in house artistry.

Playing the role of ‘Penny’ was another incredibly talented actress ‘Simone Covele’, who really displayed true likeness to her character. Covele’s dancing skills were sensational and I would say she was completely on par with ‘Cynthia Rhodes’, who played the character of ‘Penny’, in the original film and also demonstrated a serious side of her acting skills, which at times was needed, due to the serious story line, ‘Covele’ is involved in.

I would also like to mention the incredible vocal skills of ‘Alex Wheeler’ who plays the role of ‘Billy Kostecki’, his solo performance of ‘ In the Still of the Night’ was superb and received an incredible ovation from the audience. What a talented young man!

Sian Gentle-green played the role of ‘Elizabeth’ and also showcased her incredible vocal skills, especially when she sang the famous, ‘I’ve had the time of my life’, with the again impressive ‘Alex Wheeler’.

In conclusion, this production was superb and had the audience completely engaged at all times. In other productions I’ve seen, the audience can become fidgety and sometimes unsettled, this was definitely not the case with this production, as the audience were constantly engaged with the show. The whole cast really brought something special to the show and displayed a certain unity at the end, which was really touching. It was like group of good friends had united to tell this beautiful story!

Throughout the production, the sheer passion and determination from all the cast is truly displayed and made what I feel was a superb show.

The closing scene, which displays the famous lift scene was sensational and again showcased the wonderful dancing skills of ‘Kira Malou’ and ‘Michael O’Reilly’.

I feel that due to this production being so well constructed and delivered, I would like to award the show a 7 star rating. This has only ever been previously awarded to one other show on Valley Times, but I sincerely feel this production merits this.

You can catch this incredible show at the New Theatre Cardiff until Saturday and it’s 110% worth seeing! I’ll leave you with this, “ Cardiff most certainly didn’t leave baby in the Corner!”

REVIEW BY BRETT SALWAY

Published by VALLEY TIMES

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