“Dirty Dancing” Down Memory Lane at The Playhouse

Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage opened Tuesday, April 3 at The Playhouse on Rodney Square to a very excited audience! Based on their reaction, I assume most (if not all) had seen the movie and knew the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman’s romance with bad-boy dancer Johnny Castle, during her well-to-do family’s vacation at a resort in upstate New York. 

Assuming they knew the movie, that also meant they knew the soundtrack. I think anyone who was 4 or older in 1987 probably knows at least one or two of the songs by heart! (I recall those songs playing constantly on the radio ‘back in the day.’) 

Dirty Dancing, the film, was a phenomenon. Let’s face it: Most people going to see the stage version are looking to recapture the memories of a blockbuster movie of the 1980s. From what I overheard of people exiting the theater at the close of the show, it did the job! I heard many recounting the first time they saw the movie, comparing the stage actors to the original characters in the film.

Yes, this Dirty Dancing stays true to the film. You’ll recognize the dance moves, the music (with a few period songs added), the characters and every famous scene from the movie (you can probably guess them all). Minor changes have been made to this production — including a subplot about the Freedom Riders — but for the most part it, the original tale stays intact.

Although some may long for the film actors, I think most will be pleased with many of the actors in this production, especially Aaron Patrick Craven as Johnny Castle and Anais Blake as Penny Johnson. Both are incredibly strong dancers, and it was hard to keep my eyes off them as they recreated those iconic dance moves on The Playhouse stage. 

Christopher Robert Smith as Dr. Jake Houseman (Baby’s father) brought a youthful feel to his character that was refreshing and that made him a little more relatable. Erica Philpot, who sings many of the famous anthems from the film, has a beautiful voice and brought new depth and feeling to the memorable songs.

I admit, like most others in the theater that night, I became a little nostalgic watching the show. It took me back to being 13 years old and seeing the movie for the first time with my family. It was nice to “relive” my youth and the fun of the 80s…even though the show is set in the 60’s!

Come relive the time of your life while Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage is at The Playhouse on Rodney Square through April 8. For tickets, visit www.thegrandwilmington.org or call 302.888.0200.

See www.thegrandwilmington.org.