Dirty Dancing, Musical Based on Hit Film, Opens in Chicago Oct. 19

By Kenneth Jones
19 Oct 2008

The pre-Broadway U.S. premiere of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, the London and Toronto hit based on the film of the same name, opens Oct. 19 after previews from Sept. 28 at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre.



The dance-heavy musical, which offers many presentational pop numbers rather than a strictly character-sung score, features Amanda Leigh Cobb as Frances "Baby" Houseman and Josef Brown, re-creating the role of Johnny Castle, Baby's headstrong love interest (he appeared in the London and Australian productions).

The lead couple does no singing in the show, but they do act and dance. In the shadow of her strict parents, Baby and Johnny bond one summer at a Catskills resort in the '60s.

This first engagement of the national tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage has been extended by six weeks, to Jan. 17, 2009, due to popular demand. The run was originally announced to end Dec. 7 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph St.).

No Broadway dates have been announced yet for the show. Its next stop is Boston, followed by Los Angeles.

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The famous 1987 film of the same name has been re-imagined for the stage by the original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein. The music and dance-driven Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage is directed by James Powell, with choreography by Kate Champion.

Chicago's Britta Lazenga, of the Joffrey Ballet and the Toronto run of Dirty Dancing, plays Penny Johnson. The cast also includes Ben Mingay as Billy; John Bolger as Baby's father Dr. Jake Houseman; Kaitlin Hopkins (bare, Bat Boy) as her mother Marjorie; and Katlyn Carlson as Baby's sister Lisa.

Rounding out the cast of 39 are Molly C. Callinan as Vivian; Joseph Costa as Mr. Schumacher; Jonathan Epstein as Max Kellerman, namesake of the resort at which the iconic story is set; Ryan Farrell as Robbie; Michael Howell as Tito Suarez; Lauren Klein as Mrs. Schumacher; Michael Lluberes as Stan; Gary Lynch as Moe Pressman; and Adam Overett as Neil Kellerman. The ensemble includes John Antony, Timothy Bish, Thea Brooks, Karen Burthwright, Theresa Coombe, E. Clayton Cornelious, Jean Michel Erole, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Hayley Henderson-Smith, Darina Jeleva, Travis Kelley, Charlie Logan, Lauralyn McClelland, Erich McMillan-McCall, Samuel Pergande, Andrew Pirozzi, Sarah Skogland, W. Easton Smith, Billy Harrigan Tighe, Aspen Vincent, Tony Vincent, Emily J. Williams, and Candice Woods.

The creative team also includes Stephen Brimson Lewis (set design), Conrad Helfrich (music supervisor), Tim Mitchell (lighting design), Bobby Aitken (sound design), Jon Driscoll (video and projection design), Jennifer Irwin (costume design) and Craig Wilson (Latin and Ballroom dance choreographer).

Producer Jacobsen Entertainment, in association with Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions, characterize the show this way: "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. Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, combines all the intensity and excitement of live theatre with new songs, new scenes, and thrilling new dances. Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage is an unprecedented live experience for lifelong fans of the film and new audiences alike that explodes with heart-pounding music, breathtaking emotion and sensationally sexy dancing."

The story focuses on Baby and Johnny, "two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives."

The show — part play, part dance event, part concert — features 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."

Individual tickets ranging in price from $35-$95 are currently on sale. A limited number of premium tickets are available to all performances and range in price from $125-$150. For ticket information call (312) 902-1400 or visit Ticketmaster.com.

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