Nobody puts Baby in the corner

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Baby (Jessie Hart) and Johnny Houseman (Lewis Kirk) danced their way to success in the roles made famous 28 years ago by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.

 

A stupendous production with fantastic scenery and stunning visual effects brought a well-deserved standing ovation from a packed theatre when, last night, Lisa and I saw Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage. It was live on stage at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, as part of its UK national tour.

Meanwhile, the same producers have other performing companies on tour in the USA and Australia with more countries lined up to make it a real worldwide enterprise.

Of course, I can only speak of the UK show but if the others are anything like the performance we saw last night, all I can say is: if it comes to a theatre near you, don’t hesitate, buy your tickets immediately.

Moreover, it is on at Venue Cymru until Saturday 17th October, so if you are anywhere near North Wales make the effort to go and see it. You won’t regret it – but don’t delay as tickets are selling really fast.

I doubt many people have not seen the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing that starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey; that was a rip-roaring box office hit and I just have to say that this stage show captured everyone’s favourite parts of the film to perfection.

Lewis Kirk excelled as Johnny Castle while Jessie Hart danced her way into our hearts as Frances Houseman, better known as ‘Baby’.

So let’s take you back. It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year- old ‘Baby’ is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.

Baby’s life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.

But it is not just Johnny and Baby that were great, there is the rest of the energetic cast that wrapped up the whole audience in a totally authentic stage version of the movie.

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage features hit songs including ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do you love me?’ and the heart-stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life’.

Many favourite original masters are featured within this stage sensation blending the movie soundtrack seamlessly with live performances by the cast. Some of these classic tracks include ‘Cry To Me’ by the larger-than-life rhythm & blues singer, Solomon Burke, the no.1 hit single ‘Hey! Baby’ by Bruce Channel and ‘These arms of mine’, Otis Redding’s first solo record.

Of course, the very last and highly emotional scene (yes there were some tears in the audience) is when Johnny says the famous line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” and then they go into the I’ve Had the Time of my Life dance that culminates in Castle’s lift of Baby as she seems to fly in his arms.

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The author’s years of experience in journalism includes being a theatrical columnist and critic.

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Free rugby at theatre

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Rugby Union fans around the globe are avidly following the fortunes of the various nations in the Rugby World Cup, especially if one of the teams is from their own country.

The group stages end this coming weekend, then the last eight teams go into the knockout stages.

Embarrassingly for this time’s host nation England, its team has become the first in the competition’s history not to qualify for those knockout stages. Yes, with one group game still to play, England knows it cannot reach the quarter-finals. It will be playing Uruguay purely for the honour of winning.

The England team’s fate was decided by losing successive matches to Wales and Australia, both at England’s home ground of Twickenham, over the last week.

It means that Wales face Australia this Saturday to decide the winner and runner-up of group A. This is important as the winner will face the runner-up of group B, likely to be Scotland, while the runner-up will play the winner of group B, almost certainly South Africa.

So, it is great to see that North Wales rugby fans are being given to watch this key match live at Theatr Colwyn. And when I say ‘given’ I mean just that. There will be no charge. It is a tremendous community benefit provided by theatre management.

It is an example of extremely forward thinking by a really progressive management team that deserves to see its theatre packed out.

Actually, Theatre Colwyn is getting used to capacity audiences. As well as live theatrical performances, its progamme includes films as well as live screenings of major live performances elsewhere.

For example, the National Theatre’s production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch. This has proved to be in so much demand that the live screening is sold out and the theatre has now announced that it will be having what it calls an ‘encore’ screening on another evening. This is its term for showing of a recording made in Theatr Colwyn of the live performance.

And it is made possible by the installation of a hi-tech, state of the art, digital projector a couple of years, or so, ago.

So, rugby fans will be able to see all the action on Saturday evening on a cinema-sized screen, presented using digital equipment for the very best in both visual and sound quality. That will be a real treat for anyone unable to travel to see the match itself.

Theatr Colwyn, alongside its bigger ‘sister’ Venue Cymru, is owned by the local authority – Conwy County Borough Council. However, to the credit of the councillors, it does not seem to have its ambitions curtailed by excessive amounts of red tape.

As well as being a theatre and cinema, it is also the home of Oriel Colwyn, a gallery that has a continuous variety of exhibitions of art and photography. It is a delightful place to see and often welcomes visitors from around the world. So, wherever in the world you live, if you find yourself in the seaside town of Colwyn Bay do drop in. You will be assured of a warm welcome by manager Philip and his team.