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Review: DIRTY DANCING Steams Up Heinz Hall

It's the classic story of Baby and her family vacation to Kellerman's resort. The sun is hot, the family activities are campy, and the dancing is dirtier than ever. The staged version of the 1987 movie of the same name, Dirty Dancing is a surprisingly sensational show.

As the favored child, Baby (Rachel Boone) has a passion for changing the world and helping those in need. Her parents respect her for that, but Baby soon jeopardizes this relationship when she is introduced to Johnny (Christopher Tierney) and the rest of the Kellerman's staff in their informal dance hall.

Their dancing is a little different than the G-rated mambo the staff teaches the guests; sensual choreograph has many staff members attached at the hips and being flung gracefully through the air. Their moves are raunchier than some of those in clubs around the city, but it's impossible to take your eyes off their fluid bodies.

Mr. Tierney's cool and suave demeanor is consistently overdone throughout the performance, but his true talent lies in his footwork. His ability to move across the stage and lift other dancers is nothing short of impressive. With some dance breaks lasting nearly five minutes, my lower back began to ache just watching him lift, catch, and place other dancers as if they were feather-stuffed pillows.

His dance partner, Penny (Jennifer Mealani Jones), dominates the stage in presence, posture, and poise, but an unforeseen incident leaves Johnny without her for an upcoming performance. Baby volunteers and is transformed on stage from an awkward, noodle-armed mannequin to a smooth, rhythmic dancer. The kinesthetic relationship between Mr. Tierney and Ms. Boone is palpable and climaxes during their iconic lift in "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."

Dirty Dancing, as the name suggests, is all about dance. This show is not one to attend for the singing, as the music hardly drives the plot, but the lyrics and beats accentuate the dancers' routines beautifully. The video projection and simple set design also work well to keep the focus on the dancers and not distract from the talent.

I could have watched this upbeat musical two-times over and been amazed at how effortless the dancers fly through space. Move over Chicago because this is some of the hottest dancing on stage today. If you missed ABC's remake of Dirty Dancing, don't worry; you still have a couple more chances to see a sexier version at Heinz Hall.

To see or not to see score: 7/9; Recommended Show

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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