Brown, Cobb and Lazenga Will Be Dirty Dancing in U.S. Premiere; Show Is Broadway-Bound

News   Brown, Cobb and Lazenga Will Be Dirty Dancing in U.S. Premiere; Show Is Broadway-Bound The U.S. premiere of the internationally popular Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, opening in Chicago in September, will feature Josef Brown, of the London production, as Johnny, Amanda Leigh Cobb as Baby and Chicago actress Britta Lazenga, of the Toronto production, as Penny Johnson.
Amanda Leigh Cobb
Amanda Leigh Cobb

Producers Jacobsen Entertainment, in association with Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions, announced the principal casting June 30 and confirmed that the show is Broadway-bound; no New York dates have been announced, though future tour markets include Boston and Los Angeles.

Billed as the pre-Broadway American premiere, the national tour begins at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre Sept. 28 for a limited engagement through Dec. 7.

Additional casting will be announced.

Brown (Johnny Castle) comes to the national touring company direct from the London and Australian productions of Dirty Dancing, where he played Johnny. Brown was trained at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne before performing with The Australian Ballet.

Cobb's Broadway credits include The Country Girl and The Coast of Utopia; she's a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. She has worked regionally at Yale Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Shakespeare and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Lazenga is a Chicago-based dancer and member of the Joffrey Ballet.

The word "musical" isn't highlighted by the show's producers and marketing people: Dirty Dancing is variously billed as a "theatrical event," the "classic story on stage" and a "live experience for lifelong fans of the film and new audiences alike."

Inspired by the hit 1987 movie that starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, "this powerful theatrical event blends music, dance and drama in a wholly original way," the producers promise. "The movie 'Dirty Dancing' is a legendary entertainment phenomenon. The soundtrack continues to sell millions of copies. And now live audiences can experience it as never before."

The tale is re-imagined for the stage by the original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, whose concept allows for new songs, new scenes and new dance sequences.

During her family's summer vacation at the popular Kellerman's resort in the early '60s, Baby, a doctor's daughter with dreams of joining the Peace Corps, meets Johnny, the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Against all odds, they fall in love…and they dance.

A cast of 37 will perform to 35 hit songs, including "Hungry Eyes," "Hey Baby," "Do You Love Me?" and the Academy Award-winning "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."

The same creative team responsible for the London and Toronto productions of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will bring the show to the United States: director James Powell, choreographer Kate Champion and Stephen Brimson Lewis (set design), Jennifer Irwin (costume design), Tim Mitchell (lighting design), Bobby Aitken (sound design), Jon Driscoll (video and projection design), Craig Wilson (Latin and ballroom dance choreographer) and Conrad Helfrich (musical supervisor).

The current Toronto production is nominated for a 2008 Dora Award, Toronto's major theatre prize, in the category of Outstanding Production of a Musical.

Individual tickets for the Chicago run are currently on sale at Broadway In Chicago box offices (18 W. Monroe, 24 W. Randolph St. and 151 W. Randolph St.), through the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (312) 902-1400, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers or online at Ticketmaster.com.

Tickets are now available for groups of 20 or more by calling (312) 977-1710.

For more information on Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, go to www.dirtydancingamerica.com or www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Josef Brown as Johnny with Nadia Coote and ensemble from London's <i>Dirty Dancing.</i>.
Josef Brown as Johnny with Nadia Coote and ensemble from London's Dirty Dancing.. Photo by David Scheinmann
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