Posts Tagged ‘Dirty Dancing’

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By Alisha Zygmuntowicz

When the movie Dirty Dancing came out in 1987, I was starting my sophomore year of college. I found myself drawn to Baby Houseman’s idealism and desire to make the world a better place. Fast forward twenty-seven years and I find myself reminiscing of how carefree my life was and how anxious I was to get my grown up life started, much like Baby. As I was preparing to attend Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage at DPAC, I was thrilled with the prospect of getting to see the story unfold in person. Eleanor Bergstein, the screenwriter for the film and book writer for the musical, was able to enhance the original movie experience by adding “more Baby and Johnny scenes, more about the family, more songs I couldn’t afford the last time, and, most exciting of all-more dancing.” She recognized the audience’s desire “to step through screen and be there while the story was happening.” She hit the target.

Dirty Dancing opened in November 2004 at the Theater Royal in Sydney, Australia and toured throughout Australia and New Zealand, boasting eighteen months of sold out performances. A new performance followed in March of 2006 at the Theater Neue Flora in Hamburg, Germany. The production was a huge success achieving the highest advance in European history. In October of 2006 performances opened on London’s West End and become the longest running show in the history of Aldwych Theater, closing in July 2011. It went on to tour UK for an additional two years. The world tour has performed on stages from Toronto, Canada to Cape, South Africa. DPAC is the stop after the official opening at The National Theater in Washington D.C. for the current US tour.

The story follows Frances “Baby” Houseman’s family vacation in the Catskills the summer of 1963. You experience a love story, sexy dancing to everything from rock and roll to R & B, and the clash of two very different worlds. Baby is drawn in by the Kellerman’s staff’s boisterous after hour’s activities and the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle. As she becomes involved in their personal lives, you see her idealism and naivety drive her choices. She falls in love, fights with and grows closer to her family, all while learning to dance to help out the female dance instructor, Penny.

As the first act opened I found myself absorbed by the music. The echo of This Magic Moment sung by Jennlee Shallow is still in my mind, where I am sure it will stay for a while. The music, as iconic as it is for the movie, was chosen by Eleanor Bergstein before writing the story so it fit the stage even better than it did the screen.

Much like Baby, played by Jillian Mueller, I was enthralled by the dancing. To add to the overall nostalgia of seeing the dance routines was Mueller’s striking resemblance to Jennifer Grey’s as Baby in the original film. Johnny and Penny, portrayed by Samuel Pergande and Jenny Winton, made ballroom dancing look as easy as walking for you or me. The ensemble’s dirty dancing in the staff quarters was raunchy but fabulous.

To add to her uncanny resemblance to Grey, Mueller portrayed the role of a girl blossoming into a woman, pushing the limits while seeking her father’s approval in a way that would have made even the toughest of movie fans happy.

Doug Carpenter, portraying Billy Johnny’s cousin, caught my attention as well as the rest of audience’s attention in the second act. His performance of In The Still of The Night was stirring. The audience cheered with the “No one puts Baby in the corner” line. Shallow and Carpenter stole the final act with The Time of My Life confirmed by the standing ovation during the final bows.

An aspect of the show that I truly appreciated was the clever set changes, props and projected backgrounds. Positioning the orchestra above the stage moved them from an unseen support role to at times a more central focus to add to the flow from scene to scene. The props used were just enough to set the scene and not distract from the actors; a bed and chair in Johnny’s room, barn doors, stairs and small stage for the staff quarters. The projected backdrops completed the scene.

Another positive was the lighting. The design kept you focused on the action, created the ambiance of the scenes. At the end of Act 1 the lights moved to the audience, it was like starlight moving across the crowd, a nice touch.

Throughout the show, the crowd was absorbed and engaged erupting into applause at all the big scenes in the story; Carpenter’s In The Still Of The Night, Rice’s Lisa’s Hula, and the unforgettable line “no one puts Baby in the corner.” Carpenter and Shallow also got a huge applause at the end.

In the end, I left DPAC feeling that this was a wonderful show that left me wanting to see it again, soon. It allowed me to leave real life for two hours and get lost in wonderful music and dance.

DD

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dirtydancing

Dirty Dancing
“Brilliantly staged” – The Times
September 16-21, 2014

The classic story on stage is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Featuring the hit songs, “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart-stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!” Don’t miss your chance to see this record-breaking live theatre sensation. You’ll have the time of your life!

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The Phantom of the Opera
“Extraordinarily opulent. This Phantom’s storytelling and relationships have an electrifying tension!” – Chicago Sun-Times
October 8-19, 2014

Following an acclaimed sold-out tour of the United Kingdom, Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success, The Phantom of the Opera, will come to DPAC as part of a brand new North American Tour. Hailed by critics as “bigger and better than ever before,” this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier, new scenic and lighting designs, new staging and choreography. The beloved story and thrilling score will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
“A dazzling delight for all ages! Cinderella casts a new spell on Broadway!” – USA Today
November 18-23, 2014

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the Tony Award®- winning Broadway musical from the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific that’s delighting audiences with its contemporary take on the classic tale. This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love—the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more—plus some surprising new twists! Be transported back to your childhood as you rediscover some of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in this hilarious and romantic Broadway experience for anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream… or a really great pair of shoes.

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Annie
“Spectacular on every count.” – Newsweek
December 9-14, 2014

Leapin’ Lizards!

The world’s best-loved musical returns in a time-honored form. Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin, this production of Annie will be a brand new incarnation of the iconic original. Featuring the beloved book and score by Tony Award®-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, Annie includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

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Motown
“More than a Broadway show. A celebration of music that transformed America!” – CBS Sunday Morning
February 17-22, 2015

It began as one man’s story… became everyone’s music… and is now Broadway’s musical. Motown The Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Featuring classic songs such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” experience the story behind the music in the record-breaking smash hit Motown The Musical!Kinky Boots “Dazzling and joyful!” – Daily NewsMarch 10-15, 2015Kinky Boots is the exhilarating Broadway musical that will lift your spirits to new high-heeled heights! Winner of six Tony Awards® including Best Musical, this inspirational story follows a struggling shoe factory owner who works to turn his business around with help from Lola, a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. Together, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… proving that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots features a joyous, Tony-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, direction and Tony-winning choreography by Jerry Mitchell and a hilarious, uplifting book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein. Come join the sold-out audiences who’ve discovered why – sometimes – the best way to fit in is to stand out!

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Pippin
“Astonishing. A PIPPIN for the 21st century…dazzling and awe-inspiring!” – Entertainment Weekly
May 12-17, 2015

Pippin is back on Broadway for the first time since it thrilled audiences 40 years ago… the show the New York Times declared “Astonishing. A Pippin for the 21st century.”  It won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival! With a beloved score by Tony nominee Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked), Pippin tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. Will he choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory. This captivating new production is directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Hair and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess). It features sizzling choreography in the style of Bob Fosse and breathtaking acrobatics by Les 7 Doigts de la Main, the creative force behind the nationwide sensation Traces.

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Newsies
“Stop the presses! Newsies an irresistible high energy winner” – Entertainment Weekly
June 2-7, 2015

They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines…Direct from Broadway comes Newsies, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards® for Best Score and Best Choreography, Newsies has audiences and critics alike calling it “A musical worth singing about!” (The New York Times) Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it’s a high-energy explosion of song and dance you just don’t want to miss.

Based on true events, Newsies tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It’s a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right…and staying true to who you are.