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Making the leap: Have the time of your life when ‘Dirty Dancing’ comes to the stage

Baby and Johnny will take to the stage at the INB Performing Arts Center in “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage.” (Jeremy Daniel)
Baby and Johnny will take to the stage at the INB Performing Arts Center in “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage.” (Jeremy Daniel)

“Dirty Dancing” came out shortly after I graduated from high school, and I have managed to live a full, invigorating adult life without ever actually seeing it.

Oh, sure. As a consumer of popular culture, I’ve picked up some knowledge about “Dirty Dancing.” I know, for instance, that no one puts Baby in a corner. I know, from seeing “The Time of My Life” video on MTV a zillion times, that there is challenging dance move that must be mastered. I know the movie stars Jennifer Grey, back when she still looked like Ferris Bueller’s sister, and Patrick Swayze at the height of his attractiveness.

Oh, and Jerry Orbach, pre-“Law & Order,” played a disapproving father. Big surprise there.

It’s not like the producers needed my money. This low-budget 1987 feature brought in more than $200 million at the box office and became the first film to sell a million copies on home video. The soundtrack was ubiquitous, too, selling 32 million copies and churning out hit after radio hit.

I’m still going to avoid watching the movie – at this point in my life, it’s become a point of pride. Also, I think some things are best experienced as a swoony teenage girl.

But I’m not going to avoid the touring stage adaptation that’s coming to Spokane next week, as part of the STCU Best of Broadway series. Here’s what there is to know before the INB Performing Arts Center is transformed into a Catskills resort, circa 1963, for the show’s six-performance run that concludes April 29.

1. The plot and music from the stage show are virtually identical to that of the movie: 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman is vacationing in the Catskills with her parents and older sister. While there, she stumbles across a staff party where the dancing is anything but prim and proper. Intrigued, and sporting a major crush, Baby teams up with the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle, who teaches her all the moves. They also fall in love. The hit songs from the movie, including “Do You Love Me,” “Hungry Eyes,” and the Oscar-winning “The Time of My Life” all are used in the show.

2. “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage” has not played on Broadway, but it has played all over the world. It was first performed in 2004 in Sydney, Australia, and toured Australia and New Zealand. Two years later, it opened on the West End in London to a record-setting 11 million pounds in advance sales. It was fully sold out for six months and ran for five years. It had successful runs in Germany, South Africa and Canada. This current U.S. tour launched in 2014 in Washington, D.C.

3. West Coast Entertainment, the company that produces the Best of Broadway series, lists this show as appropriate for middle school age and older, and warns of mature content. As the stage show is a near perfect reproduction of the movie, that means the abortion plotline involving Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, is included.

4. Expect some good dancing. The three leads of the touring company, Aaron Patrick Craven as Johnny, Kaleigh Courts as Baby and Anais Blake as Penny are all trained ballet dancers.

5. There could be a familiar face or two. The touring company includes Erica Lee Cianciulli as Majorie Houseman, Baby’s mother. Cianciulli was last in Spokane in January 2017 playing Fastrada in “Pippin,” where she gave a standout performance of “Spread a Little Sunshine.” Buddy Daniels Friedman, in the company as Mr. Schumacher, has been in episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Key and Peele,” and “2 Broke Girls,” as well as the films “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” and “Taking Care of Business.”

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