The ultimate girls-night movie has gotten a makeover — as a stage show! A coming of age story and the most swoon-worthy summer romance, Dirty Dancing — written by Eleanor Bergstein — has been seducing crowds all over the nation, and is now making its stop at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles.
The story begins with Baby "Frances" Houseman (Gillian Abbott), and her family (Mark Elliot Wilson, Margot White, Alex Scolari) arriving at their vacation destination — Kellerman's, a mountain resort — where the days are hot, and the employees are even hotter. The mornings consist of endless games of Simon Says and easy dance lessons. However, when the ever-curious Baby runs into Billy Kostecki (Doug Carpenter), an employee, she in introduced to the other side of Kellerman's — the employees' after-hours parties. Shocked and a little excited by the sensual dances she sees before her, Baby meets Johnny (Christopher Tierney), the resort's dance instructor, and is sucked into his world.
The abundance of dance talent in this show is incredible. The choreographers (Kate Champion, Michelle Lynch, and David Scothford) utilize the amazing skills of their cast to create the sultry world of dance into which Baby stumbles. One standout is Jenny Winton as Penny, Johnny's childhood friend and dance partner. Winton, whose credits include dancing with the Joffrey Ballet, is absolutely thrilling to watch as she executes moves that seem impossible. Of course, the leads, Abbott and Tierney, do not disappoint either. Abbott, a graduate of Juilliard, moves with fluidity, and effortlessly captures Baby's timidity and grace. On the flip side, Tierney, who has danced with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, reminds the audience just how sexy dancing can be.
The show, though a thrilling spectacle, is not so much a musical as it is an extended dance recital with a plot. A dance heavy show, neither one of the leads sings, and songs such as "Hungry Eyes" are piped in through the speaker. That is not to say that the cast lacks musical talent. On the contrary, when the time comes to break into song, Adrienne Walker — who opens the show with "This Magic Moment" — and Doug Carpenter take their moment to shine. These powerful vocalists carry most of the musical performances, and team up to deliver the crowd-pleasing classic "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."
Stephen Brimson Lewis' set uses few physical objects, and relies mainly on projections by Jon Driscoll to establish location. This allows the scenes to change quickly and efficiently. Projections are also creatively employed to recreate the iconic scenes between Johnny and Baby in the field, and then later, in the water, as they attempt the impossible lift — which the audience got a kick out of.
The stage production stays pretty true to the movie. All of your favorite songs and lines are there, including "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," which received many cheers.
Although writing a stage play based off of a movie does provide an automatic blueprint, sometimes every single scene from the movie doesn't have to, or should be, included. Trying to replicate sequences and scenes from the movie does mess with the pacing a bit; however, at times it was forgivable because it was obviously an attempt to include fan-favorite moments from the movie. The show does add a side love story between two of the workers, Billy and Elizabeth (Walker), but it really doesn't add anything to the show.
For a night of incredible dancing that will make you wish you hadn't dropped out of ballet when you were seven, be sure to check out Dirty Dancing. And yes, you may just have "the time of your life."
Contact Staff Reporter Julia Stier at firstname.lastname@example.org.