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Decent show, but could have been better...
Dirty Dancing (Musical)
Member Name: pixis77
Dirty Dancing (Musical)
Date: 28/07/09, updated on 31/07/09 (190 review reads)
Advantages: Cheap tickets for wheelchair users and their companions, good wheelchair access
Disadvantages: Some songs not sung live, at times poor sound quality, and on this occasion an idiot audience member
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting my lovely mum in London. Mama Pixis77 has a thing for theatre shows and musicals, so we bought some tickets for the Saturday afternoon performance of Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre. Whilst i'd much rather watch a stage adaptation of Saw, I am not averse to romantic-cheese.
Mum is a wheelchair user, so we bought our tickets directly from the theatre, over the telephone. Wheelchair users and their companions pay a reduced price. We purchased two top price tickets (ordinarily costing £60) for £35 each. Most impressive.
On previous theatre outings, i've had to deposit mum at the doors whilst I struggle to find a member of staff to help her gain access. On this occasion, I was pleasantly surprised to find a staff member waiting for us at the side door. No, this was not a cruel illusion! We had been allocated our own personal theatre escort! This lovely lady led us down a bumpy slope into the theatre, pointing out the location of the theatre's disabled access facilities, before showing us to our seats.
We were positioned at the front of the dress circle with a great view of the stage. I had some difficulty positioning mum beside my chair, due to the limited space available for wheelchair manoeuvres. Eventually, after much dragging, and skillful sliding, I managed to straighten her chair up, so that it was aligned to my own. I wanted mum to be as comfortable as possible, and my main concern was that she had a good time! Thankfully, no-one tried to get out from our row during the performance, as I would have had to go through the whole dragging and sliding process once more.
It's been a long time since I saw the movie, but the story seemed pretty much identical. The general theme is that of 1950s holiday romance. Baby (played by Hannah Vassallo) is a fresh-faced American gal who visits a holiday resort with her family. There, she meets Johnny (played by Martin Harvey), a dance-instructor at the resort. Soon, she becomes his student, falling in love with him, much to the dislike of her father. Expect a cheese-fest of gigantic proportions!
At times, there were slight technical difficulties with the microphones, with some parts spoken so quietly, I had to strain to hear what was being said. Additionally, some parts made me cringe. For example, during the second act, Baby and Johnny were lain in bed getting all slushy with one another. From what I could see, there was absolutely no chemistry between the two actors and the dialogue was stilted. To add to this cringe-fest, some idiot in the box decided to start laughing her head off. Why is there always one?
The music was great, when it was live. There was of course the staple tune from the movie, '(I've had) the time of my life'. However, I have to say I was disappointed that some of the major songs were actually recordings played in the background. If you look at the show's website, you'll see 'Hungry eyes' and other songs such as 'Mama said' listed as part of the show's two acts. However, these songs were not sung by cast members, but played in parts (not in full) throughout the show, with either recorded vocals, or no vocals at all. Of those songs that were sung, NONE were sung by the shows two main characters. Instead, the singing was left to two of the show's 'extras', who I should add, did an excellent job. I did, however, find this a tad strange as in my experiences of musical theatre, the main characters usually do most of the singing!
You might be wondering what mum thought of all this. Well... she fell asleep 15 minutes into the show! I spent the majority of it nudging her to wake her up. The show lasted for around two and a half hours including the intermission, so that was a lot of nudging! And whilst we are talking about the intermission, I should add that you can expect to pay £8 for two midget-sized pots of ice-cream.
Overall, our Dirty Dancing experience was OK. If you're a wheelchair user, you'll be treated very, very well at the Aldwych theatre. In fact, I really have to applaud the theatre for the way they assisted us. I just wish the show had been a bit more engaging. As an aside, mum insists that she wasn't sleeping, but watching the show through half-closed eyes!
Summary: Wheelchair friendly-experience (mostly), but the musical itself could have been better
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