Recreating an iconic work in a different medium always comes with inherent risk, but the screenwriter of '80s super hit Dirty Dancing saw rewriting the film for the stage as a huge opportunity.
Eleanor Bergstein says peoples’ desire to watch the film over and over suggested to her they wanted more: more Baby, more Johnny — and more dancing. After all, the finely choreographed dance numbers are a main draw for fans of the coming of age story and Baby's affection for a sexy resort dance instructor.
You can see all the signature moves when Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage heads to Bass Concert Hall from November 11-16.
Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage means more Baby, more Johnny — and more dancing.
"It’s almost like a director’s cut of the movie where Eleanor has been able to add things and to flesh out things and characters that she wasn’t able to do in the movie," Associate Choreographer David Scotchford explains. Moving the story from the screen to the stage gave Bergstein the freedom to go deeper into the story, the time and the characters.
As for the mambos, waltzes and cha chas, the essence of the key dance scenes are maintained, but the choreography has been adapted for the stage. "You won’t see the exact choreography from the movie but what you will see is it re-imagined for the stage," Scotchford says. "With the theater, you have to have specific movements because you are seeing the full person move and interact with others the whole time, so you just have this one wide shot."
Unlike regular musicals, Dirty Dancing keeps its numbers authentic to draw in the audience, making them feel like they're watching a moment in time, not a production. "It has to look real … there’s not very many moments in this show that we have unison movement like most musicals — not everyone is dancing the same step which makes it feel more like it’s happening in real life."
And the story itself is about Baby being exposed to real life. "She does learn to dance and that is a great thing unto itself, but what’s nice about the show is you also get a chance to enjoy the journey of Baby becoming a woman, or at least the beginning of that," he says.
Fans of the movie, Scotchford insists, will not be disappointed. The production includes all of the film’s quintessential moments: the lift, the log dance, Baby’s giggle during "Hungry Eyes" and the tickle moment at the start of the ballroom number.
"Speaking from a dance perspective you get more dance. You really see the full number," says Scotchford. "In those big numbers like '(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,' you’ll see the ensemble doing amazing things — as well as Johnny and Baby ... Someone who likes the movie will just find more to love!"