A review by Suzanne Birrell.
Dirty Dancing opened last night to an enthusiastic full house at the Hollywood Pantages. A classic well-loved movie made popular stage show. The fact that the original movie was loosely based on the writer's story just makes it that much better. All the iconic scenes from the movie were accounted for- the show is pretty much just lifted from the screenplay. Through the miracle of special effects we were able to watch Baby and Johnny in on a log, in wheat field, and even in a lake complete with splashing and going under water- the works. The iconic lines were all accounted for. When the character Johnny proclaimed, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," the crowd went wild.
Gillian Abbot was fun to watch as Baby. She was absolutely believable in her inability to dance at the beginning that when she did a climatic and graceful lift the audience again went wild. (If you come back after February 9, Rachel Boone will be playing the part so that gives a good excuse for all those who really want to see it again to see it again.) Christopher Tierney had the moves, the looks and a resonant voice. His character doesn't sing but I believe he could. The two had to execute much of their final dance on a revolving platform and form me which was impressive but I was happy when they jumped off and could really strut their stuff.
Jenny Winton as Penny was an absolutely marvelously limber and graceful dancer and wowed us to the end. Adrienne Walker charmed us with her powerhouse voice. Herman Petras as Mr. Shumacher brought tears to our eyes with his bump and grind (one at a time) Besame Mucho. Doug Carpenter had a solo moment and made the most of it singing In the
Still of The Night as Billy Kosecki. He hit that high note pure and clear. Jerome Harmann-Hardeman had the jump, jive and the wail. Alex Scolari was over the top with a cherry on top as Lisa Houseman.
Dirty Dancing features great performances by more than capable actors, wonderful dancing, a mesmerizing light and sound show, but the story itself tends to have slow ponderous movement and scenes that come out of nowhere. That said, the show does slowly accelerate to a most satisfying ending. If you approach the show as a talent show of acts -which in a way much of it is- then the show is most satisfying. The projections of scenery is masterful right down to fades between scenes and frequently elicited oohs and aahs and might be worth the price of admission to check it out.
If you loved the movie, you will love the stage show. The standing ovation started almost before the show was over. There was a passion in the audience which could be felt through the final song The Time of my Life which leads me to report
, Dirty Dancing is a crowd pleaser.
Tuesday-Sunday through February 21, 2016, at the Hollywood Pantages.