The North American touring company of “Dirty Dancing” will present the stage show at Popejoy Hall – at 8 p.m. Friday, June 16, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 17, and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 18. Popejoy is located in the UNM Center for the Arts. Tickets are available in advance by calling 925-5858, at the UNM Bookstore, at The Pit and, area Albertsons supermarkets, and at the Center for the Arts box office. For group orders of 10 or more email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 344-1779.
Review by David Steinberg
If you love dancing and spectacles, “Dirty Dancing” is for you. The stage show is truly a heart-stopping dance spectacular.
Wrapped around the dancing are the music, the singing, the staging, the lighting, the videos and holographic projections. Together these elements seem to literally and figuratively elevate the performance off the Popejoy Hall floor.
“Dirty Dancing” is the stage adaptation of the 1987 film of the same name. But the adaptation delivers what the film could not. Or for that matter any film, even one shot today, could not accomplish. That’s because of the thrill of the live dancing and singing on stage.
From the top down, the whole cast of the North American touring company meets the demands of the dance numbers in one scene after another.
Recognition must also go to the show’s choreographic team – Michele Lynch, Kate Champion, David Scotchford and Craig Wilson.
There is also a story here, a coming-of-age story. Frances “Baby” Houseman (Bronwyn Reed) isn’t terribly excited about spending the summer, the summer of 1963, at a Catskills resort with her parents and her sister Lisa (Alyssa Brizzi). Baby’s attitude changes when she becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle (Christopher Tierney), the handsome, young gigolo/dance instructor at the resort. She helps him with his poor self-image. He helps her with dance moves. They help each other with horizontal action.
The issue of social class comes into play. Baby’s doctor-father has a strict us-them attitude when it comes to Baby hanging with the staff. Baby helps dad be more understanding. He also has a role in aiding Penny, (Jennifer Mealani Jones) Johnny’s beautiful, lithe dance partner, recover from an abortion.
Woven into the love story is the sociopolitical tale of the year of 1963. Baby, who believes people need right wrongs, heartily supports the decision of two young waiters to travel to Mississippi as Freedom Riders to help disenfranchised blacks get the right to vote. There is also an interracial romance between a pair of dancers – he’s white, she’s black, in the show.
The production is also chock full of pop and folk songs from the mid-20th century – e.g. “This Land Is Your Land,” “Besame Mucho,” “Duke of Earl” and a full treatment of The Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night.”
The show concludes with Baby finally learning the lift from Johnny. It’s integrated in the big song-and-dance number “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the Oscar-winning tune from the film “Dirty Dancing.”