Find me a person who doesn’t like Dirty Dancing and I will personally attempt that legendary Johnny/Baby lift with you.
This February the quintessential story comes to The Biggest Little City, in live action, with Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage. “The story is timeless and so damn iconic,” said Christopher Tierney, who plays Johnny Castle. No stranger to the stage, Tierney performed in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark and had small roles dancing in Across the Universe and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
And we couldn’t agree more; the story line resonates with just about everyone.
“Even being a scrappy little boy … I always liked it,” Tierney said. He personally has seen the film actively 10 times and passively (you know, when it’s on in the background and you can’t tear yourself away) around 30 times.
In case you didn’t know, the civil-rights era film is most famously a love story. But the movie’s writer Eleanor Bergstein, who based the plot on real events in her life, dreamed the film would harp more on civil rights and since she is highly involved in the stage production, the play accomplishes just that. The story does, after all, take place in 1963, the same year Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
“People come to see the love story,” Tierney said. “[but the play] has a little more of a civil rights sub-story in there … something the producers of the movie shied away from.”
So, how do they do it? How did Bergstein adapt the first movie to sell one million copies into a successful play?
The main characters don’t sing, but the oh-so-famous soundtrack is performed by singers and a live band. The acting is separate from the music and dancing, but work together to form the Dirty Dancing plot we all know and love. And for the characters of Johnny and Baby …
“I don’t want to just imitate Patrick [Swayze], but use him as inspiration,” Tierney said. “I try and figure out how to recreate that lightning in a bottle.”
We will have to see for ourselves later this month.
The Classic Story on Stage premiered in 2004 in Australia, made its way to Great Britain for four years, and then the United States in 2008. The tour wraps up in June of this year.