BWW Review: DIRTY DANCING LIVE at Place Des Arts

On June 1st, I saw DIRTY DANCING LIVE at Place des Arts in Montreal, Quebec. From being a fan of the movie at fourteen, I was thrilled when I heard of the live stage show. After checking tour dates constantly for years, I finally discovered I would be in Montreal the same time as the show!

When I entered the theatre, my jaw dropped at the skrim with the famous Dirty Dancing logo detailed in hot pink font. I knew I made it. As the beginning notes dropped similar to the opening of the movie, I was a little upset they didn't sing the familiar "Be My Baby" yet the song that was in its placed carried the same feeling and rhythm.
The dancing portrayed by the ensemble seemed sloppy and could have required more on point technique. Jenny Winton's portrayal was forgettable in the first act. Her dancing was flawless, yet her face seemed as though she was bored and the choreography was "Been there, done that". Not like the Penny I remember from the movie who showed the guests she was having fun. In Act Two she came through in some of her scenes, though plain faced dancing continued throughout.
Rachel Boone's portrayal of Baby was marvelous! Not only did she look like Jennifer Grey, but she lived the part of Baby; seamlessly moving from the left footed Baby to the extraodinary Frances Houseman trained by Johnny Castle. Boone's Baby had a more confident approach to the role, evident in the scenes where Baby had to stand up for herself. She had a fire that was burning bright. Girls swooned as Christopher Tierney entered as Johnny Castle. Tierney is Patrick Swazey's doppelganger and had me on the edge of my seat. This couple worked as a team and I enjoyed their stage presence.
Mark Elliot Wilson as Dr. Jake Houseman was memorable as though he was bringing Jerry Orbach to life with that gorgeous deep voice and gentleness of the character.
The costumes were almost exact to the movie, yet had a newer feel which was exciting and fresh.
What is different about this show is that it is not necessarily a musical. Two characters sing the songs, while others are played straight from the original recording. The songs do not flow like a musical, they seem more like a live karaoke show of the famous movie.
The biggest disappointment of the show was the set. It had the Kellerman's feel, but got tiring after three scenes. A screen not much taller than the actors is in the back that changes from the outdoors to show curtains. The set seemed cheaply made and after a while it lost its touch and I craved for more. For the scenes involving water, a scrim was in place which was a nice break from the boring set. As I said earlier, the purpose of the set was probably to represent Kellerman's and that the entire story takes place there; leaving us the feeling that we are staying for a long vacation at the Catskills resort. I visited the DIRTY DANCING LIVE UK TOUR website and noticed that they have brand new set changes; something I wish the United States/Canada production would take on.
Overall, I enjoyed seeing these characters coming to life and having a different version of my favorite movie come to life; "Time of My Life" dance sequence was picturesque as well as the other famous moments. However, I would not get your hopes up too high for this production. I hope that set changes will be in place to bring a more memorable feel. I recommend this show to all fans as it is a nice evening out at the theatre, but expect a karaoke dance party mashed into a musical.

Photo credit: us.dirtydancingontour.com

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From This Author Chelsey Robichaud

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