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Dirty Dancing

“Nobody puts baby in a corner.” That famous line is just one of the many reasons the film “Dirty Dancing” became such a huge hit. Now it’s joined the ever-growing list of movies to become Broadway musicals in the past decade. Some have failed miserably, (I’m looking at you Ghost), while other have had a seamless transition to the stage. For me, this one worked. It avoided the pitfalls that so many of the recent movie-to-musical Broadway shows have made. It didn’t try to insert awkward ballads into the midst of a scene. It also relied heavily on the dancing, which was excellent. 

The plot lends itself to the musical format much more than most. It’s built around the story of a young girl learning to dance, so music and dance numbers were easily incorporated into the show, while staying incredibly close to the original story.  Baby, is a 17-year-old vacationing with her parents in the Catskills. She has her eyes opened as she gets to know the staff that works at the resort. As she falls for the dance instructor, Johnny, she learns that first impressions aren’t always accurate.
There are a few small changes from the film, namely an added emphasis on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Riders. There was also more depth given to Baby’s parents’ relationship, which worked well. The production keeps most of the songs from the film, sometimes as background music, occasionally as live performances by the supporting cast.

The set uses a huge television screen to transport us quickly from a field to a lake to the resort in an instant and at times it was distracting. The live band on a second floor platform worked well though and used the space wisely. Samuel Pergande as Johnny Castle, was clearly hired for his dancing skills, and there’s no shortage of those, but his acting misses the mark. His lines come across as empty, and his wooden performance left something to be desired. 

No one going to see Dirty Dancing should be expecting groundbreaking theatre. They should go because they love the movie. It’s fun, entertaining, and full of familiar scenes, which is just what I was hoping for.  

Don't Miss the Show
The show runs until Sunday, June 14 at Clowes Memorial Hall so hurry to get tickets. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, Old National Centre (Murat Theatre), by calling (800)-982-2787 or online here. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Photos courtesy of Broadway Across America