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April 18, 2009

Dirty Dancing at Royal Alexandra Theater

Are you ready to have the time of your life? If the answer is YES, then head over to the Royal Alexandra Theatre for Dirty Dancing! If you love the movie (like I do!) you will not be disappointed in the stage adaptation – rather, you will be swept up by the magic and love all over again. Through beautifully-crafted sets and perfectly-performed music, you will instantly be transported back to the early 60’s (if you were there the first time!) and forget about the world outside.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story (and thus must live under some kind of rock): Baby Houseman and her sister, mother and father take a two-week vacation at Kellerman’s Resort, as Baby’s doctor-father has been treating the owner, Max Kellerman; Max wants to thank Dr. Houseman for saving his life. Baby meets a staff dance instructor, bad boy Johnny Castle, and through a series of events, both fortunate and unfortunate, they find themselves falling in love against all the odds. There are miscommunications, sexual misconducts, flat-out affairs, racial issues, class struggles, political uncertainty, family arguments, and two young people trying to find their way in the world, together. The dramatic events are carefully balanced with bouts of humour (“I carried a watermelon?!”), and the perfect partnership of music and dance.

I’ll admit to being hesitant about going to see this, when I first saw the ads on television. After all, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were the only Johnny and Baby I’d ever known. It seemed completely impossible to me that anyone else could ever play those roles as wonderfully. To my (pleasant) surprise, Ashley Leggat and Johnny Wright were outstanding as Baby and Johnny right from the start, and I was able to completely relax and enjoy the show. Ashley is cute, bubbly, and a wonderful physical actress; everything needed to play Baby, especially for those painfully-awful early dance scenes. Johnny has the exact cool, slick, school-of-hard-knocks attitude needed to be a convincing Johnny Castle – and his dance moves don’t hurt, either. The two have the ideal chemistry, a fine balance between curiosity and annoyance, and later that beautiful, awkward thing we all know as young love.

I was pleased that the stage adaptation hadn’t made too many changes from the original. I suspect many audience members were people like myself; devoted fans of the film, who already think the film is perfect exactly as-is. There were a couple of added scenes, two different songs, and a little bit of extra story information here and there, but for the most part it was exactly what I was hoping to see. It was the same story I’ve always loved, done exactly the way it needed to be done.

It was the perfectly early Valentine’s Day: a funny, dramatic, romantic, timeless story. Whenever I watch the film, I can’t help but get caught up in its whimsy and dance; I got caught up in it all over again, only this time live. I guarantee you will leave with wonderful music stuck in your head, and a bit of giddiness in your heart. Don’t forget to watch the prequel movie, either, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.” It even has a Patrick Swayze cameo!!

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2 Comment(s)

  1. Rick Boyer | Apr 18, 2009 | Reply

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  2. admin | Apr 18, 2009 | Reply

    Thank you. Much appreciated. Let me know if I can do anything for you.

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