Review: Dirty Dancing at The Alexandra, Birmingham

by Julie Wallis

Dirty Dancing at The Alexandra, Birmingham

Written by Eleanor Bergstein Directed by Federico Bellone

Dirty Dancing has returned to the Alexandra theatre for one week as part of a UK tour and is as fabulous as always.

Kira Malou (Baby) Michael O'Reilly (Johnny)_ Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage_ Photo credit Alastair Muir (2)
Kira Malou (Baby) Michael O’Reilly (Johnny) Photo by Alastair Muir

The Houseman family are enjoying the summer of 1963 in the Catskills mountains, at a country club style resort. Johnny Castle (Michael O’Reilly) and his dance partner Penny Johnson (Simone Covele) are part of the entertainment who find themselves in trouble when Penny finds out she is pregnant. Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (Kira Malou) borrows $250 from her father to help Penny out of her situation and when Baby’s father finds out he immediately presumes that Johnny is the guy who got Penny into trouble. Meanwhile Johnny is teaching Baby to dance so as he can still perform his regular dance routine when Penny is indisposed. When Johnny is accused of theft and can provide no alibi because he spent the evening with Baby, Baby tells everyone she was with Johnny and in doing so, she is no longer her Daddies ‘little girl’.

Michael O’Reilly is perfectly cast as Johnny with his six pack abs and perfect pecs he looks great and he can dance. The role of Johnny is such an iconic part to play, yet Mr. O’Reilly has nailed it! He has the swagger and the attitude to match the physique too.

Also perfectly cast in her role as Baby, Kira Malou as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman.
Sweet and lovable, Baby is all heart with a naive charm and a sense of justice, she always wants to do the right thing, she also wants to please her daddy as she is very much a daddy’s girl. Miss Malou makes Baby totally believable. She is also a talented dancer.

Simone Covele as Johnny’s dance partner Penny was brilliant. She is incredibly talented as a dancer, but I’m not sure a human spine is supposed to bend that far! I may know nothing about dance, but I do know that to look so effortless takes heaps of skill and all of Simones dancing looked effortless and elegant.

Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage Photo by Alastair Muir
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage Photo by Alastair Muir

All of the iconic movie moments are included in this stage show, Johnny and Baby do practice the lift in a lake, Baby does squirm when Johnny runs his finger up her arm and yes they do do that lift in the final scene. The final scene really does get the crowd cheering. To be fair, the audience had been very vocal throughout the entire performance. There are lots of oohhhs and arrrrs every time Johnny removes his shirt, and he does seem to take his shirt off quite a bit. This really does seem to attract a predominantly female audience, but it’s such a happy play, I understand why it’s a huge hit with the ladies.

Speaking of huge hits, the music, all the old favourites are still here. With Do You Love Me, (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, and Be My Baby all included, sung by the Dirty Dancing Company. With over 40 songs in total you will find yourself singing along.

Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) Kira Malou (Baby) Simone Covele (Penny) Photo by Alastair Muir
Michael O’Reilly (Johnny) Kira Malou (Baby) Simone Covele (Penny) Photo by Alastair Muir

The set is quite simple, yet effective. The front of the country club to show outside scenes, spin the building around to show interior scenes and the same with the Houseman’s chalet. Some clever lighting to take us from day to night and I was in the mountains with the rest of the guests.

Dirty Dancing is a real feelgood production and a terrific night out. I had a wonderful evening. Check it out at The Alexandra until Saturday 10th November:

This isn’t a sponsored post. #BrumHour was invited to see Dirty Dancing by The Alexandra.

When not blogging theatre for #BrumHour, Julie Wallis can be found on her own blog at