When invited to the opening night of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, lifelong fans like myself could never turn it down.

It was also my first time at Blackpool Winter Gardens; despite holidaying in the seaside town many times, I hadn't had the chance to watch a performance there before.

Dirty Dancing was written by Eleanor Bergstein in 1987. Set in 1963, the film was based on screenwriter Bergstein's own childhood.

It tells the tale of 17-year-old Frances 'Baby' Houseman, played by Kira Malou on stage, and dance teacher Johnny Castle, played by Michael O'Reilly.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Originally from Burnley, Georgia Aspinall plays Penny Johnson, a fellow dancer whose place Frances takes when she falls ill, and with Johnny teaching her the famous moves.

Georgia trained at Laine Theatre Arts, and describes the role of Penny as a 'dream role' for her musical theatre debut.

But before the show began, I was delighted to see an art deco cocktail 'Floral Lounge' that served drinks and nibbles, adorned with Dirty Dancing themed decorations.

A bowl of watermelons referred to Frances' 'I carried a watermelon' line, and fans of the show took pictures in front of a large 'Baby' sign, aptly placed in the corner of the bar.

Lancashire Telegraph:

New for September 2023, a speakeasy bar opened upstairs that offers an exclusive private relaxation to 15 guests, prior, during, or after the show when booked.

It is reported that Queen Elizabeth II had visited the cocktail bar herself many years ago, and comedy duo Ant and Dec used the area as a dressing room when presenting a series of Britain's Got Talent.

Lancashire Telegraph:

As we took our seats, the audience admired how accurate and suitable the opening curtain looked, as it showed the scene where the film is set, Kellerman's Mountain House holiday resort, with a welcome message below inviting us to feel like we are on vacation too.

Opening lines described the time of the story even more than the film does, quoting Martin Luther King Jr in the timely Civil Rights Movement, before playing The Beatles' early songs to really set the scene.

Shortly after the original score began to play, and viewers started to dance to classics such as 'Hey! Baby' by Bruce Channel and 'Cry to Me' by Solomon Burke.

As the night continued, I was delighted to see a live band on stage who were that good, I thought it was just the speakers until I saw players such as Tom Mussell playing the saxophone.

Finally, the crowd roared when Johnny surprised us all; but I won't ruin the surprise and tell you what with... 

Whilst slightly adapted for stage, the cast and crew of the show did an amazing job of sticking to the story we all know and love, but also gave an interesting interpretation that was a refreshing change from being predictable.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Tickets can be found on the Blackpool Winter Gardens website.