Review: Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing really started off on the right foot with the amazing female vocals on “This Magic Moment,” sang by Chante Carmel. Right away I thought Chante you stay. The male vocalist, Jordan Edwin Andre, as Billy wasn’t lacking in any way either. His talent was featured well in his solo, “In The Still Of The Night.” That guy had some major air flowing through his pipes.

The choreography was full of jazzy musical theater flair. Exciting lifts, dips, lay outside and splits were performed with a sense of ease through out the performance. The female dancers, especially Jennifer Mealani Jones, who played Penny had flexible backs and beautiful legs that sensually arched and extended. Even more exciting were the unison sections which included sexy hip movements, cha cha and merengue.

The standard I held them to was the performances in the movie. I really wanted them to dance as well as Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze. Understudy Angelica Bette Fellini, who played baby, did not fully transform from awkward virgin to passionate performer, as Jennifer Gray did in the film. The actor who played Johnny Castle looked good shirtless, and was an OK dancer. He moved his hips well while ballroom social dancing and while he lead the formation in unison. His solo lacked the power that Patrick Swayze had in his performance. His coupe jete was weak and low to the stage. He could not do a double pirouette into a double tour. His singles weren’t all that great because his parallel retire was too low and he lacked a nice fifth position in the air. I would have preferred “Hungry Eyes” to be a dynamic vocal and dance solo rather than a video montage. Although the digital technology was impressive through out the show.

The highlight of the night was when Baby and Johnny went to bed together, much to the audience’s delight. The acting was overall very good. However when it came to the moment of truth, the lift, they fell short. They did not do it very well. Neither did the couple pictures on the program.
Lisa’s Hula and Besame Mucho provided much necessary comic relief. These two performers maintained the integrity of Broadway performance art.

So in the end I was a little disappointed by their final performance of the night. I would suggest that, the two lead actors spend some time in a grassy field, and pool practicing that iconic lift, that is the high mark of difficulty in the history of dance on film and stage. I am happy I watched this performance because although placed in the height of the Civil Rights movement, it still remained relevant to today’s audience.

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