The story of Baby and her family's trip to Kellerman's Resort and her subsequent sexual realisation with the ever-so-delicious Johnny Castle – dance teacher and leader of the venue's entertainment staff – is here told blandly and with little effort from seemingly anyone involved.
If you're acquainted with the film – love it or hate it – you may find the whole scenario somewhat familiar, mainly because each scene has been taken directly from the film, cheesily backdropped with a projection to take you from woodland to patio to lake. Word for word, gesture for gesture, the film is presented – save a few achingly awful and awkward additional scenes that made the audience members look at each other in bewilderment. This copy-and-paste presentation might seem appealing to some, but the almost bored performance of each well-loved scene stripped the show of any potential charm it could have held, especially with such lazy writing – ironically, this version was also written by the film's writer, Eleanor Bergstein. Such directed and scripted mimicry was never going to be as good as the original film, in the same way that a tribute act can never compare to the impersonated artist.
The familiar scenes of Baby's first experience of the not-so-family-foxtrot dirty dancers and Baby and Johnny's first love scene were performed with as much sex as an empty bra, with all the trimmings but none of the content. Scenes that in the film have thrilled and enthralled many a young woman (myself included) were here soulless and disappointing – again, probably down to the fact that the leads (Jill Winternitz and Paul-Michael Jones) were directed to copy the film as closely as possible, right down to the caress of Johnny's back during a bedroom scene (which was embarrassing to watch, even with Jones' lovely back displayed), as Winternitz awkwardly circled him. Winternitz's interpretation of Baby was a strange one, turning Baby's confidence as a liberal and potential Peace Corp candidate into a lost little girl without purpose behind her words or any irony behind her I-can't-dance rehearsal montage with Johnny.
There are moments of great talent. Wayne Smith as Billy was at times fun to watch, especially when he was left room around the strict direction to give off a little charm. His voice was a smooth relief too, one of only two singers in this large cast of a musical – and I struggle to call it that. Emilia Williams as Lisa Houseman, Baby's sister, was great fun too, really embracing her character and adding extra comedy to the proceedings, her performance filling the auditiorium effortlessly. I laughed loudly – and this time not from the awful ridiculousness of it all. Baby's parents were pleasant enough, with solid accents and a believably loving relationship, and they were the only characters to gain a little back story from the 'adaptation', even if it did seem a bit too-little-too-late. Yes, there were demonstrations of talent, but in such a thrown-together production, it was all quite fruitless.
Guess what... I don't recommend going to see this rather expensive film tribute act in which you risk leaving as whole-heartedly disappointed as this reviewer. Stay at home, rent the movie, buy a watermelon and grab a friend or lover with whom to attempt the infamous lift... which of course gained great applause from the audience – anyone who can pull that off deserves a woop-woop (and it's near the end).