You saw the 1987 movie with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, and you are brimming with affection for the nostalgic story about the nice girl who falls for a sexy rebel dance instructor at a Catskills resort in 1963 (and learns some nifty moves in the process, some of which are horizontal). But should you venture to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts to see the touring production of Dirty Dancing?
Here are the signs that you will have the time of your life at the show, which runs through April 24.
You love to watch people dance.
Strangely, there are no traditional dance numbers in Dirty Dancing, just bits and pieces of numbers. But they are pretty entertaining pieces, particularly the group numbers highlighting Johnny Castle (Christopher Tierney) and his partner-not-girlfriend Penny (Jenny Winton). The play would have benefited from more dancing, dirty or otherwise, and less dialogue. A lot less dialogue.
You have an affinity for the music of the 1950s — and it doesn’t necessarily have to be sung live.
In a strange twist for a musical, Dirty Dancing uses mostly pre-recorded music (although there is a small orchestra seated above the stage that contributes on occasion). A few characters sing but not Johnny (Tierney) and Baby (Rachel Boone), and a lot of the songs are heard only in snippets. You’re only going to get a few drumbeats from The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, and that’s about it.
You want the look of the show to mimic the movie.
Set designer Stephen Brimson Lewis highlights his basic set with video projections (such as the staff quarters, seen above with Doug Carpenter, Boone and some watermelons). Don’t worry — the learning-to-balance-on-a-log scene is still there, along with the log. A projection fills in for the famous lake in which Johnny and Baby practice their lifts and tumble backward into the water, a smart, funny way of re-creating that beloved moment.
You don’t mind lots of not-terribly-interesting chattering.
When the dancing stops, the theatrical seams start to fray. Why there is so much dialogue is a mystery (and it’s weak dialogue, at that). The attempt to add depth by including Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and talk of Freedom Riders is futile: This story is feather-light no matter how many serious trappings you weigh it down with. We just want to see the dancing.
You are prepared to cheer at the finale, no matter what comes before.
You are virtually required to applaud when you hear either of the following: 1. The spoken line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” and/or 2. The opening notes of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, which closes the show and is sung by Doug Carpenter and Adrienne Walker. These are two of the most iconic elements of Dirty Dancing, a big part of why this story of summer romance endures. If you’re not willing to show some emotion, the people sitting around you just might be tempted to put you in a corner.
Photos by Matthew Murphy
If You Go
What: ‘Dirty Dancing’ by Eleanor Bergstein
When: Through April 24; 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Tickets: $30-$115; www.browardcenter.org