Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dirty Dancing Opens in ATL to a Packed House!


Oh wow.  What can I say?  Oh yeah, I know.  Let's be cliche:  "I had the time of my life!"

Last night was phenomenal, and I owe it all to Brave PR for allowing us, once again, to preview a show and then come back here and tell you all about it.

I knew last night was going to be different...from the moment I was sitting in traffic on Peachtree Street.  Not only were all the lots packed full with parking, but the crowds on the street were walking to the Fox en masse.

I had no idea.  I mean, I liked the movie.  Who didn't, right?  But, this many people turning out for opening night?  I had not seen such crowds in a while.  To be honest, I wasn't sure so many people had it "right."  Maybe I was missing something.

Well, I am happy to report that, yes.  I was, indeed, missing something.  Opening night for Dirty Dancing was exceptional.  A packed house; a lively, interactive audience; and music from a decade full of angst, turmoil, morals, and limitations.

Put all of these key ingredients together, and you have a successful recipe for a night of outstanding entertainment.

Take a moment and watch the brief trailer above.  Did you catch how many reviewers gave this production four stars?  Let me tell you -- it deserves every one of those stars, if not more.  A stunning and exciting show for sure.

Let me add in two disclaimers here, if I may, while I'm writing.  The show does veer off slightly from and add to the movie in a few areas (as a lot of Broadway shows do), and there are some sexual scenes (no nudity).  I did see two young children in the audience, so please be aware of this before bringing younger children to the show.  While I believe the show is fine for teenagers, I think judgment should be exercised before bringing a child of elementary school age.

One other item of interest:  The souvenirs for this show are so much fun.  Ringer t-shirts for Kellerman's and "dancing" shorts that sport B A B Y across the backside.  Fun souvenirs to help you remember your visit to Kellermans.


As touched on above, the production follows the 1987 movie pretty closely.  A coming of age drama that documents teenage Baby's relationship with one of the dance instructors she meets during her family's summer vacation to Kellermans.


In this traveling version, Baby is played beautifully by Jillian Mueller and Johnny Castle is played to perfection by Samuel Pergande.  They don't stray far from what our minds already see - Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, and with each iconic jump, soulful look, or pose, the crowd last night at The Fox Theatre let out their approval with whistles, whoops and hollers, and cheers and applause.


I tell you!  I love when I go see a performance, and the audience is so engaging and electric!  It just brings a smile to my face and a joy to my heart.  I can only imagine how much more meaningful it must make it for the performers.

Other key performers you won't want to miss (although the entire cast - in my opinion - was chosen perfectly) are Jenny Winton as Peggy, Jennlee Shallow as Elizabeth, and Doug Carpenter as Billy.  Jennlee and Doug provide some of the most incredible solos and performances I have heard on stage in a while.  Just unbelievable and almost bringing the audience to its feet several times.


To help you understand the miracle of Jennlee and her voice, let me fill you in on a brief summary of her background - She was raised on a Caribbean island by a single Mother with three other siblings.  She left the island, landing in America, for a college education - with no formal voice or dance training.

While here and attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in L.A., one of Jennlee's college professors overheard her singing and encouraged her to attend an audition for Disney's, "The Lion King."  Guess what?  Even with no sheet music or formal training to her resume, she beat out everyone and got the part of Nala.  Now, that - my friends - is talent!

This play, like its movie counterpart, is infectious, and I encourage you to go and see it before it ends on Sunday.  One different to keep in mind, though, as you settle into your seat -- while the storyline remains true to the movie, this play is different from others in that the lead characters do not sing in this production.  Their stories are told through Jennlee and Doug, as they bring to life more than 40 tunes - Pop, Soul, and R&B - all weaving the storyline together for us, the audience.  The songs are Baby's and Johnny's storytellers.  It works like a charm.

This is the way Music Supervisor Conrad Helfrich wanted it to be, "purely exists to support the main characters, their thoughts, their hopes, and their aspirations."

Ah, yes.  We get it Conrad.  We get it.  You have helped to make a wonderful production, and I am so glad the touring company stopped here in Atlanta to give us all a taste of what other countries around the globe already knew...

Tickets for remaining performance of Dirty Dancing still available:
  • Wednesday through Thursday:  7:30PM
  • Friday:  8PM
  • Saturday:  2PM, 8PM
  • Sunday:  1PM, 6:30PM
Tickets start at $33 and are available by visiting:
  • Calling 1.855.285.8499
  • Visiting the Fox Theatre Box Office (660 Peachtree Street)
 ...And please don't forget -- the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta is doing a holiday canned food drive in conjunction with the Thanksgiving week engagement of “Dirty Dancing.”  All week long, patrons can donate non-perishable items that will help The Salvation Army to serve Atlanta-area families during the upcoming holiday season.

On Thanksgiving only, guests who donate three or more items can take advantage of a $20 discount (dress circle only) for that evening’s performance!

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