Review: Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage



The tour, starring Kaleigh Courts (left) as Baby and Aaron Patrick Craven (right) as Johnny began on June 12 in Boston, Mass. The cast will perform in five cities in total.

Sabrina Zhou and Mia Thompson

The stage lights shined a myriad of colors onto the iridescent backdrop. The warm glow of chandeliers accentuated the gold accents on the walls. It is the summer of 1963 at a resort in the Catskills, a mountain range in New York. This resort is the main setting of a beloved movie and a new musical, Dirty Dancing.

The musical version of the 1987 movie debuted at Shubert Theatre in Boston on June 12 and runs until June 17.

Main characters Francis “Baby” Houseman and Johnny Castle were played by Kaleigh Courts and Aaron Patrick Craven, respectively. The play follows Baby’s thrilling experiences in a resort with her family and friends.

The resort served as a vacation spot for wealthy families. Baby, clearly bored by assistant manager Neil Kellerman, played by Owen Russell, and his family friendly activities, sneaks away to a secret staff-only dance club.

There, she meets dance instructor Johnny Castle, who is portrayed as a “bad boy” and “ladies man”. With an uncanny similarity to Elvis Presley, known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” Johnny catches the attention of many at the resort. Soon, Baby spends most of her time in the staff club and works to hide it from her upper class family.

The production was filled with mesmerizing dance numbers and incredible singing that depicted the story of a romance involving Baby and Johnny.

In the opening scene, we are introduced to the staff’s exclusive club. The musical commenced with silhouettes dancing against the sheer backdrop. The elusive characters came into view gradually as blue lights illuminated the dancers’ maneuvers. This foreshadowed their role in the camp as “background characters.”

One thing leads to another, and Baby is encouraged to be Johnny’s partner for an upcoming show.

The nature of their relationship starts off friendly, and the progression of Baby’s dance skills allows their feelings to quickly escalate. This is shown through the intimacy of their dance performances.

Transitions between scenes were smooth and well thought out. The use of light to show the distinct contrast between Baby’s days spent at the resort and nights spent at the club added to the clear segues.

Enticing dance numbers by the cast drew tumultuous applause from the audience. The eccentric and vibrant costumes tied together that early 1960s vibe: fun frilly dresses for the girls and cool leather jackets for the guys.

The variation and quality of props added to the experience. Realistic campfires with “smoke” rising from the flames and sound effects of water during another scene made it feel like you were truly on vacation with the Housemans.

Throughout the performance, secondary characters Billy Kostecki, played by Nickolaus Colon, and Elizabeth, played by Erica Philpot blew the audience away with their powerhouse vocals.

This summer love story concluded with the annual Catskills talent show, where Baby and Johnny danced one last time. The crowd roared in response to the beautifully choreographed dance of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”, an original song from the 1987 movie.

From being daddy’s little girl to standing up for herself, Baby’s growth is shown through dance, romance and a blossoming confidence. After the summer of 1963, she is a baby no more.