Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dirty Dancing- The Classic Story on Stage

Samuel Pergande &
Gillian Abbott
Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage is appearing at the Academy of Music through April 5 as part of Broadway Philadelphia, presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization. Eleanor Bergstein, screenwriter of the film DIrty Dancing wrote the book for the stage version. There is less dialogue in this interpretation, but the dropped verbal exchanges aren't missed due to the addition of songs and dance routines. With the beginning of Spring, this Philadelphia premiere has hit a homerun! The dancing is superb. Classically trained Samuel Pergande portrays Johnny, dance instructor at a summer resort in 1963.  Jenny Winton, who portrays Penny,  the female dance instructor, has had several years of experience with ballet companies as well.  Gillian Abbott began her career with a Cirque du Soliel troupe. Her transformation from  Baby, awkward teen, to Johnny’s lithe dance partner is amazing to watch. The ensemble is composed of an extraordinarily talented group of young dancers. They give meaning to the title Dirty Dancing as they dance secretly in a "staff only" room at the resort. The music is marvelous. There is no pit orchestra; rather a small instrumental group is on a second story stage and they appear and disappear behind a vertically dropped panel as the occasion demands. Over forty beloved songs ring through the rafters. The additional songs are  added as Ms. Bergstein was able to obtain the rights for some songs that were not available for the movie, such as The Drifters’ “Save The Last Dance For Me.”  Soloists Jennlee Shallow and John Anthony are phenomenal. The sets are incredible. Set Designer Stephen Brimson Lewis, Lighting Designer Tim Mitchell and Video and Project Design Jon Driscoll have created a complex world that is constantly changing. Screens move both horizontally and drop down vertically to create the perception of different depths on the stage.  Projections not only change scenery behind the actors but allow the actors to move through grass, woods and water in a matter of seconds. The total effect is mind-boggling. Run, don’t walk to purchase tickets to see this phenomenon if you have not already done so. Tickets are available by calling 215-731-3333, visiting online at, at the Kimmel Center box office, Broad & Spruce Sts (open daily 10 am to 6 pm) or at the Academy of Music box office, Broad and Locust Sts. (open during performances only).

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