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BWW Reviews: DIRTY DANCING By Guest Critic Anne Shoemaker

By Anne Shoemaker

When I took my seat at the historic Hippodrome theatre, I must admit that I had no expectations for Dirty Dancing, other than a fun time and great dancing. I love the movie, and was excited to see the logo proudly blazing on a large projector screen dominating the stage. The band warmed up, fog billowed in from the wings, and bright lights scattered and raced across the audience. The opening number began...and the best thing I can say about this show was, in fact, great dancing, that unfortunately, I couldn't fully enjoy.

I have a great love of live theatre. It's a medium of storytelling unlike any other, and when theatre isn't used to its best potential, I am disheartened at best, insulted at worst. There was no attempt made for this show to evolve past the movie and stand on it's own. In fact, the show and musical numbers, for the most part, followed the movie shot per shot, complete with an unimaginative set that did little more than show still frames of the movie, and limit the dancing space for a talented but ill-utilized ensemble that could have been larger and much more prominent.

There were shining moments to the show. Emily Rice (Lisa) did a wonderfully funny rendition of the hula number. The music, taken from the movie and the time period, moved the play along enjoyably, and Doug Carpenter's solo in In the Still of the Night was the best piece of the evening. And, of course, the final dance number to I Had The Time Of My Life had the audience on it's feet.

The problem with attempting to recreate a movie on stage is that the intimacy of film is lost, and therefore the message suffers. This movie was so much more than dancing, and the few extra scenes thrown in did little to enhance the story, and many, such as the civil rights tangent, detracted (privileged country club-goers in the 60s singing We Shall Overcome made absolutely no sense). On the whole, the acting wasn't great, and it only served to underscore the loss.

To be fair, this show is a good bridge for people who normally wouldn't go to a musical, or to theatre in general. The familiarity of the music and script made for a sing-along atmosphere; the audience one large family enjoying a favorite movie. Personally, for my money, I would have much preferred a new story and original music with exciting, new choreography to a photocopy.

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