I finally went to see the Dirty Dancing stage play the other night at the Teatro at Montecasino, Johannesburg. Many of the good seats were sold out for a while so sitting 6 rows from the stage was a real coup and a perfect location.
I first saw the original movie back in 1987 when I was in Standard 6 (Grade 8) at the Cine 400 bioscope (as we used to call the cinema) in Rylands, Cape Town, and it was recently on the DSTV movie loop, which refreshed my memories once again.
Watching it on stage was totally magnificent! The singing, dancing and costumes were superb, but the American accent of Johnny Castle, played by Gareth Bailey, swayed like the stunning 60’s dresses worn by the female cast. Kudos to the lead actress, Bryony Whitfield. It felt like she was channeling Jennifer Grey in her performance as Frances “Baby” Houseman.
I take my hat off to the Set Designer, Stephen Brimson Lewis, as well as the Director, Sarah Tipple and Choreographer, Kate Champion. I was wondering how they would manage the practice scenes in the water on a stage, and thanks to the innovative set design, this was achieved with believability. To refresh your memories, here is the scene from the movie where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are practicing lifts in the lake.
It is well worth paying R50 for the souvenir programme as it contains lots of interesting information and a bit of history about the period of 1963, the year in which the movie is set, as well as biographies of each actor and the creative team that put together this truly amazing and entertaining show. It also tells the story of how Dirty Dancing, the movie and the stage play, was written by Eleanor Bergstein and that it became one of the most successful independent films of all time, after every major studio turned it down.
I was glad to see “tweens and teens” accompanying their parents to see the show. In the era of social networking, BBM, WhatsApp, etc. it really is a sight for sore eyes to see this kind of interaction between parents and children – A night out at the theatre with the family.
Of course, during the break, I had to see what merchandise was for sale. A cute array of Dirty Dancing goodies included a Johnny bear in a leather jacket, Baby necklaces and Dirty Dancing keyrings. But my favourite was this black vest with the movie’s famous line “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” in shocking pink across the front, so I had to buy it.
The only way to end this post is to play out with the iconoclastic last scene from the film, so I hope you’ve had the time of your life reading this. Remember to catch the final two shows at Montecasino tomorrow, Sunday, the 13th of January 2013, after which, the show moves to the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town, from the 18th of January to the 3rd of March 2013.