Review: Dirty Dancing, Festival Theatre

“Sorry for the interruption, folks, but I always do the last dance of the season,” announces Michael O’Reilly as Dirty Dancing draws to a close on opening night. The iconic line is met with the type of deafening whoops and cheers that are usually reserved for chart-topping boy bands.

Considering his likeness to the late Patrick Swayze, both physically and in the way he embraces his role as the tough-but-loveable Johnny Castle, it’s not surprising to see such a warm reaction from the audience.  

Set in the 1960’s, Dirty Dancing not only tells the quintessential young love story but also touches on a number of controversial social issues such as class, rebellion and  abortion. “Baby” Houseman meets rebellious working-class dance tutor Johnny Castle whilst at Kellerman’s holiday camp with her well-to-do family. Intrigued by both Johnny and his fellow dancers, she soon finds herself seduced by their world and secretly rehearsing risqué dance number.

It’s a simple, light-hearted story that will forever be popular amongst those looking for a cheesy-but-fun night at theatre. But the fact this show was destined to be a sure-fire hit hasn’t stopped Karl Sydow and his fellow producers from pulling out all the stops to make sure their stage adaptation of the 1987 movies is as slick, stylish and enjoyable as can be.

As you would expect, dancing takes centre stage here with O’Reilly energetically swinging his hips back-and-forth in almost every scene while Simone Covele could put Strictly professionals to shame with her flawless portrayal of dance extraordinaire Penny Johnson.

Kira Malou was endearing as “Baby” throughout while the band did a great job of bringing the movie’s iconic soundtrack to life.

The show is only returning to Edinburgh for a short run, which ends this weekend – see it while you can!

Dirty Dancing runs daily at The Festival Theatre on Nicolson Street until Saturday 9 March 2019. Tickets are available from £35 – £65.50 via

Words: Amy Anderson

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