I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Dirty Dancing has to be my favourite chick-flick. I have no idea how old I was when I first watched the VHS tape of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey sashay their way through the steamy mambo, but I do remember being very confused about what kind of ‘trouble’ Robbie had gotten Penny in to….
Every time I hear the soundtrack I am transported back to my early teenage years, bombing around my hometown of Sheffield in an old VW Polo with my friend and her Mum belting out ‘Hungry Eyes’. I feel the need to add here that by this age I had worked out the Penny and Robbie situation….
On a trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains several years ago we popped into the ‘Kellermans’ resort for lunch and I can proudly say that I too have walked in the footsteps of Baby, though sadly I missed out on carrying a watermelon.
Last week I returned home to my South Yorkshire motherland to watch the stage production of Dirty Dancing. In short we had a blast and as I’m sure you all know, it is an exact word-for-word, dance-by-dance replica of the beloved film apart from a few short scenes. I enjoyed the first act more than the second, though the finale was obviously my favourite scene.
I couldn’t fault the dancing, atmosphere, or Baby’s performance. (Johnny was played by an understudy so his lack of ‘buffness’ and tan was understandable). However, like many others who have seen the stage production, I actually preferred the film to the theatre version. Whilst sometimes it’s an utter travesty that a reproduction changes the ending, kills off a main character etc, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the lack of any originality in the translation from film to stage.
So now it’s time to open up the whole ‘is the film-better-than-the-book?’ or is the ‘film-better-than-the-stage?’ debate.
Les Misérables is the first to spring to mind. I haven’t seen the musical but many say it’s incredible. For me the film was stunning from a visual perspective, but the powerful ‘live’ audio was just too raw to be sung in Surround Sound. The French historical novel by Victor Hugo is viewed as a literary classic but at 1,500 pages it’s going to be many weeks of bedtime reading!
I went to see the West End production of Lord of the Rings several years ago. Other than being completely enthralled (and terrified) by the blade-wearing orcs patrolling the aisle seats, I cannot remember anything of note about the play at all. Gandalf bursting into song all seemed a little bit odd if I’m honest. However in the films the score is utterly emotive and adds a dimension that I can’t recreate when I read Tolkien’s novels.
I would love to hear your comments on the books-stage-films debate. Don’t worry if your book or film wasn’t made into a West End theatre production, let’s have a chat about Jaws, The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Beach or any of the other hundreds of novels that have made it on the big screen. Who’s read ‘The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ and gone on to watch Wicked, or foot-tapped through the Billy Elliot film and gone on to watch the stage version? In general do you prefer film watching to book reading or theatre-going? And if none of this floats your boat just let us know your favourite Dirty Dancing moment!