I don’t know how I ever convinced Mr. PC to take me to see Dirty Dancing “The classic story on stage” when is was so openly touted as an exciting musical performance, but I did. And it was lovely. I’d like to preface this review by alerting those who are looking for a dynamic take on the 1987 classic that is really is like watching the movie performed on live stage. There are minimal differences, in many cases, the script being lifted right from the original. But as a little girl growing up in KY with big dreams like any other, I fell in love all over again with romance and ‘cheese’ of Baby and Johnny. The cast was so delicately chosen that at times it was hard to realize that you weren’t in fact experiencing the original. Amanda Leigh Cobb brilliantly portrayed the shy, clumsy footed Baby, even succeeding in the awkward hairstyle and over-the-top attempt of ‘cool dance moves.’ For last night’s performance, Johnny was played by the understudy Samuel Pergande. I’m not sure how the usual lead performs, but Johnny was as sexy, cool and standoffish as usual. What’s more, Pergande interacted so naturally with the cast that without the insert into my Playbill explaining so I would never have realized I was watching an understudy.
Beyond the casting was an amazing and authentic array of costume. Though closely tied to the movie, the cast was decked out in very convincing 1960 attire (which I happen to love!) that brought its own flair to the stage. The prim and proper attitude in public eye, yet daddy’s girl rebel vibe was played out well. Even props were creative so that staging allowed for very closely tied to the movie settings. A three-tiered stage that rotated for various scenes, and a very vibrant thunderstorm and ‘water practice’ scene were well-played and managed to just miss a corny conclusion. My only complaint of the evening was the lack of live vocals. I anticipated the cheesy soundtrack, but expected to experience some take-that-American-Idol-wannabe vocals. Shy of the bring down the house performances by Ben Mingay (playing Billy Kostecki) and Candice Marie Woods (part of cast ensemble) it was mostly just a loudly played stereo with the original soundtrack on rotation.
All in all, a very nice evening out. A very exciting show with an ethusiastic cast and equally participating crowd (particularly when Johnny runs up the middle aisle from the back of the house at the end scene) made for a fun, light-hearted night out that brought back the joyous memories of childhood Saturday afternoons. Bostonians, make your way to the Boston Opera House by April 12 for your own experience of Dirty Dancing.