Spot-on casting, superb sets and dazzling dancing

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Dirty Dancing, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

I have seen the film so many times I almost know it word for word and I went to see the show at the Aldwych Theatre in 2009.

But the production playing at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, until Saturday, January 24, is far better than the one I saw in London.

The sets with the back projections are excellent and the singing and dancing superb. All the casting is spot on, with several cast members having played their roles in London. I particularly liked Alexander Wolfe as the goofy Neil Kellerman.

Perhaps the most difficult role to play is Johnny Castle because whoever takes the role has to follow in the footsteps of the late Patrick Swayze in the film but Gareth Bailey who understudied the role in London and on the International tour made the part his own.

His first-class dancing, singing and acting played a crucial part in the success of this production and Swayze was soon forgotten.

Claire Rogers, who played Penny in London, is one of the best dancers I have seen and it is a joy to watch.

The star of this production for me is Roseanna Frascona who plays Baby. She bears a strong resemblance to Baby in the film but she has never seen it and brings her own interpretation to the show. The way she matures from a gauche young girl to a blossoming young woman as she gains confidence through her relationship with Johnny is brilliant.

When he strides through the audience at the end saying “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” nearly brings the roof off the Congress with the cheers.

This is one of the best productions we have seen in Eastbourne and we are so lucky to have it.