Nobody puts “Dirty Dancing” in the corner.
Thirty years after the film hit theaters for the first time, the story continues to draw new viewership across all generations. Now, those same viewers can see their favorite scenes live on stage.
The staged production of the classic film, “Dirty Dancing” twirls into the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Wilkes-Barre for two performances, Wednesday, Jan. 31, and Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Leading a company of 24 is Aaron Patrick Craven as Johnny Castle and Kaleigh Courts as Frances “Baby” Houseman. As in the celebrated film, written by Eleanor Bergstein, the story follows the young love between Johnny and Baby during a summer at a Catskills resort in 1963. When Baby stumbles upon the staff quarters, rowdy with an all-night dance party in full swing, she becomes enamored with the raunchy dance moves and pounding rhythms. Her life is forever changed as she is thrown in the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady, both on- and off-stage.
The film version experienced waves of popularity over the years, beginning with the original film’s release in 1987, starring Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze. As of 2009, the film earned over $214 million worldwide, and became the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video.
For the live production, Bergstein wrote 20 additional scenes, which includes musical numbers to classic hits like “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me” and, of course, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” A total of 36 musical numbers are performed throughout the show by a live band, and nine styles of ballroom dance are featured, along with the “dirty dancing” styles famous in the film.
“The film has been transformed for stage with more scenes, more music and more dancing,” Craven said. “All the famous characters and classic lines are represented. … The extra scenes delve into a richer, more complex story and a deeper understanding of the characters and their relationships.”
The added scenes lend to the audience learning more about the time period in which the show takes place, Craven added, primarily the changes in social climate. Fans also can feel more connected to their favorite characters, especially Johnny and Baby, who have additional scenes written specifically to explore the pair’s relationship and personalities.
This theme, along with the music, coming-of-age aspects and tale of love resonate strongly with both Craven and most audiences, which has secured the story’s place in pop culture over the past three decades.
“Even if you know the movie by heart, nothing can compare to seeing this unfold live on stage,” Craven said.
If you go
What: “Dirty Dancing” live
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, and Thursday, Feb. 1; 7:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets start at $45, and can be purchased at the Kirby Center box office, by calling 570-826-1100 or at kirbycenter.org.