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BWW Reviews: DIRTY DANCING - The Danciest Show in Town!



Written by Eleanor Bergstein

Direction by James Powell

Original Choreography by Kate Champion

Choreography by Michele Lynch

Musical Director - Alan J. Plado

December, 2, 2014 at 7:30 P.M.

If you like lots of dancing, this is the show for you! And if you like "DIRTY DANCING", the film, this stage version is indeed a "cinematic" stage production.

There was great anticipation in the theatre for the opening performance of "DIRTY DANCING" the Classic Story on Stage. The energy of the audience however, waned after a delay of 25 minutes, due to technical challenges. This is the second production having opening night delays in the 2014-2015 Best of Broadway series at the Straz Center's Carol Morsani Hall.

Suddenly the blaring sounds of the orchestra awakened us to the unheard voices of performers on stage. Gratefully, the sound issues were remedied during the first scene, for the most part, but the production was continually faced with sound issues throughout the performance, with quite a bit of missed dialogue. I am certain that this will be adjusted and balanced for the remainder of performances.

The stage version of "DIRTY DANCING" is based on the 1987 film of the same name. The storyline is set in 1963, in the Catskill Mountains, New York. It revolves around 17 year old, "Baby", who is on vacation with her family and her romance with Johnny Castle, Kellerman Resort's dance instructor.

Unlikely lovers, the lovely and petite Jillian Mueller, as Baby and the handsome and sexy Samuel Pergande, as Johnny were superb dancers and they both delivered, especially in the final number "The Time of My Life". There could have been more chemistry between the two, perhaps due to Mr. Pergande's flat delivery, muffled speaking voice and/or direction and sound issues. Who knows?

Emily Rice as Lisa, Baby's sister, added the right touch of comedy to her role. She was funny in the talent show, singing and dancing to "Lisa's Hula", although the number went on just a little too long.

Caralyn Kozlowski was a charming Marjorie Houseman and her singing and dancing talents were truly a plus. Mark Elliot Wilson played an under pitched, Dr. Jake Houseman.

Long legged and beautiful, Jenny Winton as Penny Johnson, was outstanding in her role. Her acting and dancing were first rate. Also outstanding were Gary Lynch and Jesse Liebman as Max and Neil Kellerman, and John Antony as Mr. Schumacher.

The members of the dancing ensemble were spectacular and added so much to this production. Out of the shadows was the highlight of the show, the true star quality, of singer Jennlee Shallow as Elizabeth. She stopped the show with her vocals of "We Shall Overcome" and "You Don't Own Me".

I found the transition from film to stage in this production, to be confusing and somewhat boring, especially if you have not seen the film. In addition, I so much wanted this stage version to be a musical where the principals sang and danced. This was not the case in this adaptation. It was as promised, "the Classic Story On Stage."

The direction by James Powell seemed repetitive and slow paced. Choreography by Michele Lynch was exciting and plentiful. The orchestra lead by Musical Director, Alan J. Plado, was excellent.

Scenic design, by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with multiple digital projections were fascinating and technologically produced and executed with perfection. There were however, so many scene changes, that it became an overload to the senses. Some of the moving projections interfered from focusing on the dancing and became a distraction rather than an enhancement. The lighting design by Tim Mitchell, was also a distraction and was dark a great deal of the time during the numbers, which did not allow us to focus on individuals. At times, I could not tell who was singing, because I couldn't see them. Costumes by Jennifer Irwin were perfectly vintage.

If you want a nostalgic trip down memory lane and lots of great dancing go see "DIRTY DANCING" - The Classic Story On Stage

Run-time: 140 minutes including intermission

"DIRTY DANCING" - The Classic Story On Stage" will play Carol Morsani Hall, December 2nd- 7th, 2014 at at the Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place • Tampa, Florida 33602 Tickets: $56.00 - $105.00 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, or in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online

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Jimmy Ferraro is an Award Winning Actor and “Theatre Veteran”. His professional career spans over 40 years in every aspect of show business. Ferraro’s credits (read more...)