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"DIRTY DANCING"--A TOURING COMPANY REVIEW

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(CHRISTOPHER TIERNEY & RACHEL BOONE

PHOTO BY MATTHEW MURPHY)


It took 2 hours and 21 minutes that included a first act lasting 1 hour and 1 minute plus a 20 minute intermission plus a 5 minute electrical short that stopped the show for 5 minutes to bring the “Dirty Dancing” theatrical version to the point that the audience was waiting for that made the movie such a big hit!
It’s when Johnny (Christopher Tierney) takes Baby’s (Rachel Boone) hand and says “No one puts baby in a corner” and John Anthony and Adrienne Walker, standing on opposite ends of the stage start singing “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” in remarkable strong voices and Johnny and Baby start dancing. You could almost hear the audience, after they stopped cheering and clapping to the start of the dance, hold their breath waiting for him to lift her in the icon shot associated with the movie and show!
Aside from the electrical short, there is nothing like live theatre to grab an audience as an emotional response from all watching magic happen on stage. “Dirty Dancing” at 10:26 PM made that magic at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
The idea of replicating of the movie version on to the stage, even picking leads that look like the original movie Johnny and Baby, doesn’t quite work. Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote the original story and screenplay, also wrote the stage version. She, director James Powell, choreographers Kate Champion and Michele Lynch, along with the production team, tried to make this version as fluid as the movie but stage is a different medium. Having many striking video and projection designs as scenery just doesn’t work. The most intimate scenes in “Dirty Dancing” that work are the plain sets without any distractions showing the actors reaching out to each other whether it be Johnny and Baby or Baby and her father (Mark Elliot Wilson) or her sister (Alex Scolari), her mother (Margot White) or members of the ensemble.
The standouts in the cast are Jenny Winton, whose dancing reminds one of person born to dance and does it exquisitely in every movement and the previously mentioned John Anthony and Adrienne Walker. Instead of so many snips of different songs it would have added so much to have these two singers do more solos and duets. Whether it is John Anthony singing “Do You Love Me?” or Adrienne Walker singing “This Magic Moment” their voices soar over the audience reaching each one.
It may take 2 hours and 25 minutes (without any production problems) to reach that magic moment on stage in “Dirty Dancing” but it is sure worth it!
Catch the magic in Fort Lauderdale playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts until April 24 or when it returns to South Florida November 29-December 4 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.


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