Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage: Summer Story Will Heat Up Hub’s Winter

“Oh, come on, ladies. God wouldn’t have given you maracas if He didn’t want you to shake ’em.”

Hold on, hold on … those are the words of Penny Johnson, one of the central characters in the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing” not your humble blogger … I’d say it’s a good bet you’ll hear them again when the coming of age classic comes to the stage in Boston next February. It’s a great line from a spunky little drama that’s nothing less than a pop culture phenomena (by some accounts it’s one of the most watched movies ever). It’s a stagey piece, to say the least, and actually putting it on the boards just might be a stroke of genius.

As part of Broadway Across America’s amazing 2008-2009 season, “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage” has an impressive pedigree. Productions in London and Toronto have packed them in. Boston gets the East Coast premiere (sorry Big Apple you’ll have to come up here to check it out). Since at this point you need a passport to see the show, let me pass along some production notes.

First of all it’s not a musical in the classic sense. The show features 35 hit songs, including “Hungry Eyes,” “Do You Love Me?,” and “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.” The music is woven into the stage story, sure there are production numbers, but not on every tune. The show has been “re-imagined” for the stage by the original screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein, and includes new scenes and new dances. The story is semi-autobiographical and wired into Bergstein’s DNA so it’s important to note that she’s completely on board.

Oh yeah, the story. If you don’t know it you’ve probably been making jam in a monastery for the last two decades. It is, of course, the story of “Baby” … college-bound rich girl vacationing with her family at a Catskills resort, Summer 1963. When “Baby” falls for dance instructor Johnny Castle, issues of class, religion, sex and self-esteem all come pouring out. Does the line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” mean anything to you? If it does, you know the twisting bits of dance and angst that lead up to the climatic scene. Can you picture it all playing out on stage? I’m betting you can.

So, who’s in the show? Well, Josef Brown who created the role in London will be there as Johnny. Amanda Lee Cobb, a graduate of the Yale Repertory Theater and the Williamstown Theater Festival will play Baby. And shaking her maracas as hard-luck dancer Penny Johnson, Britta Lazenga, a member of the Joffrey Ballet and direct from the Toronto production.

I’ve included a couple of pictures from the London and Toronto shows in this blog to, um … get your attention.

Anyway, “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage” plays Boston’s Opera House February 7 through March 15, 2009. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date, but you can get them now if you pick up Series Tickets for the Broadway Across America – Boston Season.


Step lively.


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