“Dirty Dancing”: 67% Sweet

dirty dancing

Josef Brown and Amanda Leigh Cobb. Photo by David Scheinmann

BITTERSWEET
We’re all here to see Baby come into her own, but it sure takes a while. The producers could easily cut 20 minutes off the evening without losing the heart of the story. As is, the endless parade of camp activities and general stage busyness takes the air out of a storyline ultimately intimate in nature. (The best scene may be Johnny’s tender seduction of Baby, beautifully lighted by Tim Mitchell.) “No conversation,” Max (Jonathan Epstein), the resort’s owner, admonishes his cadre of hormonal summer employees, about to be unleashed on the daughters of his wealthy guests. Couldn’t agree more. “Dirty Dancing” is best when it shuts up and mambos.
Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times

SWEET
Blockbuster musicals based on blockbuster films are multiplying like viruses, but Dirty Dancing is different. Its approach to slapping film on a stage is the zenith of the seamless and shameless. Instead of adding songs, original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s theater translation mimics scenes with a faithfulness to her treasured 1987 source material that’s slavishly high camp. Add in James Powell’s extravagant direction and we’re served up fantastically expensive cheese that knows audiences don’t just want to see Baby (Amanda Leigh Cobb) and Johnny (Josef Brown) dancing on a log, they want to see that log descend majestically from the ceiling and be dismissed when it’s served its momentary purpose.
Amy Nicholson – LA Weekly

BITTER
The time of your life? Not quite. Though ad slogans promise that possibility, this bizarre screen-to-stage transplant offers only intermittent flashes of down-and-dirty fun. Writer Eleanor Bergstein (adapting her screenplay) and director James Powell make an ill-advised attempt to fastidiously emulate the experience of viewing the original 1987 film. An overwrought multimedia design—aiming for a cinematic feel—comes across as a cheesy distraction rather than an enhancement. Add to that a by-the-numbers rehash of the film’s soapy story, and the victory of crass commercialism over creativity is complete.
Les Spindle – Backstage

BITTER
The touring stage incarnation of “Dirty Dancing” rolls into town with more lights and machinery than Barnum & Bailey — an odd fate indeed for a wispy, nostalgic coming-of-age story grown into cult status after decades of TV showings. Though 1987 pic’s trappings are reconstructed with ruthless fidelity, what was engaging onscreen undergoes predictable coarsening when overmiked on the vast Pantages stage. Addicts will doubtless get what they come for, but for the uninitiated, a DVD rental wins out in the cost, convenience and heart departments.
Bob Verini – Variety

SWEET
I was dragging my toes about seeing this one, being a fervent fan of the 1987 mega-hit movie with Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle engraved on my heart closely followed by Jennifer Grey’s unforgettable Baby. But I’m glad I did.
Laura Hitchcock – CurtainUp

SWEET
This is one outstanding phenomenal show that features a cast of 39 outstanding singers and dancers and 53 hit songs. The fantastic dance numbers, choreographed by Kate Champion, are the force behind the production. But the lush set design by Stephen Brimson Lewis, video and projection design by Jon Driscoll, lighting by Tim Mitchell and the revolving stage, all add to the magic that brings the Kellerman’s Catskill Resort to life; it is as if one is watching a film.
Carol Kaufman Segal – Stagehappenings

SWEET
The movie has been re-imagined for the stage (by the original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein), exploding with heart-pounding music, breathtaking emotion and sexy dancing.
Margie Barron – Tolucan Times

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