It was the line Dirty Dancing fans had been waiting for all night – “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”.
Delivered by Paul-Michael Jones, in the role of Johnny Castle, a roar of approval rippled through the Hippodrome audience as they gave their seal of approval to the show.
Audiences in the city are the first in the world to see the touring production of Dirty Dancing, written by Eleanor Bergstein.
After a five-year run at London’s Aldwich Theatre, where it sold out six-months before opening night, the musical has hit the road with its first national tour.
The story, directed by Sarah Tipple, is based on the 1987 film which fast became a must-see for anyone who fancied being taught to dance by Patrick Swayze.
Emily Holt plays Frances (Baby) Houseman, the role Jennifer Gray played in the film, and she makes this a success.
It’s 1963 and as Baby and her family holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains she learns lessons in life and love after becoming mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves of after-work staff parties.
She starts a whirlwind romance with the resort dance instructor – becoming his leading lady both on and off the stage with dramatic consequences.
Holt is brilliant as the awkward teenager who carries a watermelon and ends up passionately falling in love with Jones’ cocky and confident dance teacher. Last night through flawless dance moves, choreographed by Kate Champion, the sensuous relationship was brought to life through cha cha and raunchy mambo rhythms.
Emilia Williams, adds comedy as Baby’s know-it-all older sister Lisa who also has some lessons to learn when it comes to love. And there was fun too from Mark Faith’s Mr Schumacher.
Charlotte Gooch shines as Johnny’s dance partner Penny Johnson and her character creates plenty of drama on stage.
With confident lead vocals backed by a fantastic orchestra, we are taken through classic tracks from the Oscar winning soundtrack such as (I’ve Had) the Time of My Life, Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby and She’s Like the Wind. And the audience couldn’t help but become swept up in the story – cheering every time one of the iconic film moments is recreated.
The famous water scene is cleverly adapted for the stage, but seemed to add more comedy than eroticism, although this was more than made up for in the bedroom scene.
And it was with bated breath that the pair executed the ‘lift’ finale – something they both admitted to being nervous about.
This was certainly the highlight of the night, second to Jones’ defiant statement when Baby is sat hidden away on the dance floor.
There was no denying that the packed audience enjoyed themselves as much as this cast clearly do – they were up on their feet, singing along, cheering and dancing and having the time of their lives.