Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Reviews: DIRTY DANCING National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

Based on the 1987 film of the same name, Dirty Dancing tells the classic coming of age story documenting a teenage girl's relationship with a dance instructor whom she encountered during her family's summer vacation.

The stage adaptation by screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, which included almost the entire playlist from the film, first had its world premiere in Australia back in 2004. Although reviews were mixed, the production was a commercial success, selling over 200,000 tickets during its six-month run, which then lead to sellout runs in Germany, as well as London's West End.

Despite a cast of some fine young performers including Samuel Pergande in the Patrick Swayze role of Johnny Castle, Doug Carpenter as Billy Kostecki, and Jesse Liebman as Neil Kellerman, the most impressive aspects of the show to me were the electrical sets by Stephen Brimson Lewis, along with the video designs by Jon Driscoll, as well as the lighting designs by Tim Mitchell. I also felt it also had some clever transitions by director James Powell, some slick choreography by Michelle Lynch, and a very energetic onstage band led by Alan J. Plato. But overall, I just found the show itself to be very bland and forgettable! And I really don't mean to offend any of the talent involved here at all.

As common as criticism gets whenever these classic movies are adapted for the stage, you bring the films original screenwriter (Eleanor Bergstein) on board to adapt their own material when considering the fact that they have no background in the theatre along the lines of Patricia Resnick with 9 to 5 and Bruce Joel Rubin with Ghost. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule such as Lee Hall's Tony-Winning adaptation of his Oscar-Nominated screenplay for Billy Elliot: The Musical. But then again, sometimes they're just better off passing the reigns off to some more experienced playwrights, which is exactly how I felt about the adaptation Bergstein ended up doing for the stage, a carbon copy-and-paste job with dialogue that feels almost non-existent. The material here really should've been past onto a much more experienced playwright to do a much more interesting spin on it.

Not only that, but the songs as used in the show never even feel musical enough to warrant their place onstage, as they're used more as underscore. Again, they should have easily gone for some young new musical theatre writers on scene to write an original score that actually felt more integrated into the plot. And while the classic number '(I've Had) The Time of My Life' was indeed the most impressive moment of the show, it still made for a very anti-climatic climax.

Like I said, I did not by any means hate this production, and with all do respect to the talent involved, I just found the show to be a total bore. While there is no doubt at all that die-hard fans of the original movie will be eating this whole thing up (the crowd I was with actually went crazy for it), general audiences on the other hand, will most likely be forgetting it within the long car ride home.



Interview: Chatting With Cora Hemphill & Tim Arts of Firebox Theatre Company Photo
One of the newer theatre companies in the Triangle Area is Firebox Theatre Company. It's located in Wake Forest, North Carolina. I had the great pleasure of interviewing both of the founders, Cora Hemphill & Tim Artz, about all of this and more.

Voting Now Open For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Raleigh Awards Photo
Voting is now open for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Raleigh Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.

 BWW Review: Elf the Musical Photo
Elf, which was released in 2003, has undoubtedly achieved that status with its endlessly quotable lines and endearingly funny performance by Will Ferrell as Buddy. Many of these beloved holiday films have been adapted for the stage, like White Christmas and A Christmas Story, so it’s natural that Elf has received the same treatment.

Fourth Show Added For Trevor Noah at Durham Performing Arts Center, March 27, 2023 Photo
By popular demand, a fourth show has been added for Trevor Noah.  Comedian kicks off world tour by visiting 28 Cities across the United States, including four nights in Durham, NC at DPAC on Friday, March 24, Saturday, March 25, Sunday, March 26, and Monday, March 27, 2023.


From This Author - Jeffrey Karasarides

Jeffrey Kare currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. Having been born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jeffrey took interest in live theater at age 11. He also had the great pleasure of seeing s... (read more about this author)


Interview: Chatting With Cora Hemphill & Tim Arts of Firebox Theatre CompanyInterview: Chatting With Cora Hemphill & Tim Arts of Firebox Theatre Company
December 2, 2022

One of the newer theatre companies in the Triangle Area is Firebox Theatre Company. It's located in Wake Forest, North Carolina. I had the great pleasure of interviewing both of the founders, Cora Hemphill & Tim Artz, about all of this and more.

Review: HAIRSPRAY National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterReview: HAIRSPRAY National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
November 17, 2022

Based on John Waters' 1988 cult film of the same name, Hairspray takes place in Baltimore, Maryland in the year 1962. The story centers on a plump teenage girl named Tracy Turnblad, whose lifelong dream is to dance on the local TV dance program known as The Corny Collins Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show and becomes an overnight sensation, she launches a campaign to integrate the show.

Review: North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIASReview: North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIAS
November 6, 2022

Set in Chinquapin, Louisiana during the late 1980s, Steel Magnolias takes place in Truvy's beauty salon where all the ladies who are 'anybody' come to have their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle (who is not sure whether or not she is still married), the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to several of her friends.

Interview: Kathleen Garrett of North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIASInterview: Kathleen Garrett of North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIAS
November 2, 2022

From November 4th-13th, North Carolina Theatre will be launching their 2022-23 season with a production of Robert Harling's STEEL MAGNOLIAS at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theatre, which is located inside Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Actress Kathleen Garrett is taking on the role of Ouiser Boudreaux. She has most recently appeared as Laura Bush on the Showtime series, THE FIRST LADY, as well as Netflix's Emmy nominated miniseries, INVENTING ANNA. Next, she'll be seen on NCIS: LOS ANGELES. She has countless other screen credits which includes appearing on episodes of different TV shows such as HOME IMPROVEMENT, ER, MURDER, SHE WROTE, MURPHY BROWN, THE WEST WING, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, LAW & ORDER, and many more. She's also appeared in Oscar nominated films such as 2007's AMERICAN GANGSTER directed by Ridley Soctt and 2020's THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 directed by Aaron Sorkin. I had the great pleasure of interviewing her about a lot of this and more.

Review: FROZEN National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterReview: FROZEN National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
September 16, 2022

Based on Disney's 2013 Academy Award-winning animated movie musical of the same name as well as Hans Christian Andersen's 1844 fairy tale, The Snow Queen, Frozen follows two royal sisters named Anna and Elsa. Read our review of the stage show, based on the blockbuster film, which eventually became the highest-grossing animated movie of all time at the worldwide box office (before it was eventually dethroned by Frozen II six years later).