“Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage” allows you to have the time of your life

The classic film's new onstage rendering is sure to thrill newcomers and fans of the original film

Samantha Smith, Reporter

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“Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage” is a new experience that has brought the beloved film to stages across the country. Set in the summer of 1963, “Dirty Dancing” tells the story of 18-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman and older dance instructor Johnny Castle. The storyline follows the two as they embark on a summer romance that will change both of their lives.

The ASU Gammage Theatre, located on S. Forest Ave., hosted the stage show Feb. 17-22. The Gammage Theatre is an architectural wonder designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, located at the heart of ASU’s campus. The media and press for the show was handled by Dana McGuiness, Gammage’s Senior Media & Community Relations manager.

The highly-anticipated event played to a full audience during its six-day run. The touring cast included performers Gillian Abbott, Mark Elliot Wilson, Jenny Winton and Josh Drake in the roles of Francis “Baby” Houseman, Dr. Jake Houseman, Penny Johnson, and Johnny Castle respectively. Abbott and Drake, the actors cast in the lead roles of Baby and Johnny, both have extensive professional backgrounds.

The stage show featured many elements from the film that fans around the globe have come to love. The performance included the drama, emotion and romance that contributed to the original film’s popularity. As soon as the first drum beats of the movie’s classic opening song, “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes, played out, audience members were drawn into the Summer of ’63 at Kellerman’s resort.

Beverly Hoyt, a audience member for the Feb. 21 show, remembers when the film first came out in 1987. Hoyt, a huge fan of the franchise, was extremely eager to see how they transferred the story to the stage. As a former dancer, Hoyt was curious to see the famous dance scenes on the stage.

“The show went above and beyond any of my expectations,” Hoyt said. “The dancing was very enjoyable and the soloists who provided the music for the numbers were wonderful”.

Brayan Perez and Amy Schmidt are dancers at SCC, as well as huge fans of the movie.

“I would love to see the movie on stage,” Perez said.

Schmidt, a seasoned dancer, is also very intrigued by the show.

“I think it would be cool to see the traveling show,” Schmidt said. “The movie itself is such a classic and I think it will do really well because it has such a large fan base.”

The music in “Dirty Dancing” is almost as much of a fan-favorite as the film itself. Classics from the movie such as “Time of My Life,” “Hungry Eyes” and “She’s Like the Wind”  transferred wonderfully onto the stage. Soloists Jennlee Shallow and Doug Carpenter gave the classics new life with fresh on-stage renditions.

The stage show stuck very closely to the original script, and fans sat eagerly awaiting their favorite lines. The actors knew they had a lot to live up to and they delivered the lines with confidence and skill. A fan favorite, “Nobody Puts Baby in the corner” was delivered by Josh Drake in such a fashion that the audience immediately burst into cheers and claps. The cast knew they were performing in famous, beloved roles, and they rose to the occasion.

“Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage” presented a fantastic transition from screen to live theatre. Fans and newcomers alike enjoyed the show and its fantastic energy. More information for the show can be found here.

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