There are six musicals this year: A Chorus Line ("The curtain goes up on a bunch of young hopefuls in 1970s leotards..."), Brigadoon, Legally Blonde, Nice Work If You Can Get It (another "New Gershwin" musical starring Harry Connick Jr), Spring Awakening, which I know will make all the theaterkids squee, and... Dirty Dancing.
Now I know some of you may have already heard of this, but let's let everybody else in on the joke, okay? Yes, we have another movie adaptation, ladies and gentlemen, and another jukebox musical (the fact that there's only a "Musical Supervisor" listed in the creative credits and no, say, "Composer" leads us to understand that there no original songs have been written for the show.) Eleanor Bergstein, the original creator and author, is behind it, so at least we can say that this is at least a project borne of love for the piece and because some producer thought it'd be cool to string together some Billy Joel songs and name the leads Brenda and Eddie.
But still. Dirty Dancing? Okay, it was a big-ass hit movie, everybody loved it, Jerry Orbach was in it, nobody put Baby in the corner, Patrick Swayze launched his amazing singing career (still selling out arena crowds wherever he goes, eh?) and the pop music of the early 1960s made a brief comeback in the late 80s (ok, I still enjoy Mickey & Sylvia every now and then.)
Lest we think this might be tongue in cheek, let me be the first to reassure you that no, it's really serious. Really. The official title is, and I kid you not, "Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage". The Classic Story.
The Classic Story.
THE CLASSIC STORY.
I cannot write this in any more caps.
By the way, Googling for "classic story" brings up hits for Peter Pan, Rapunzel and The
Gingerbread Man, all of which have enjoyed successful musical adaptations, so maybe the show's in good company here.
This show has been pretty big overseas. It was a West End recordbreaker and the Australians love it. But then again, weren't they also the ones who came up with the idea for Mamma Mia?
Do we want to know what it's all about? Sure we do! Read on, press notes!
Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage is a coming of age love story involving the talented and headstrong dancer Johnny Castle and Frances 'Baby' Houseman. During her family's summer holiday at the popular Kellerman's resort, 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, learning life-changing lessons along the way. The production features such tunes as "Hungry Eyes," "Do You Love Me?" and the Oscar-winning "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."(Wait a minute... Against All Odds? That's another movie entirely, kids.)
I know a lot of people love this movie. It's clear that the story resonates on many levels with many different people, and there's dancing and music and catchphrases and some pretty steamy bits. That much is cool. I don't think it needs to be put up on a pedestal, though other folks disagree. Here, presented for your giggles, is someone's cultural addition to history via the Dirty Dancing movie article on Wikipedia. Given that Wikipedia has given me some of the best laughs I've ever had (I'm particularly fond of the scholarly checklist of Recurring Themes in John Irving's Work), you can bet I love this following textbrick. While the points made about the theme is valid, just imagine it being read in a pretentious academic voice with no hint of irony whatsoever.
Dirty Dancing has been described as a coming-of-age tale showing the passage from adolescence to adulthood, in a classic hero's journey format similar to Homer's Odyssey. The hero, Baby, is an innocent who receives a call to adventure from a gatekeeper – one of the camp staff asking her in to the party – who invites her to cross a bridge (symbolically significant as it links different realms) and Baby passes into an unfamiliar world (the resort's staff and their dancing rituals). Baby then proceeds through tests and trials (dancing lessons, Penny's abortion, the performance at the Sheldrake, standing up for Johnny) to achieve personal growth, "knowledge acquired through personal experience". She is rewarded for her achievements, by sexual union with Johnny. At the end of the film she undergoes the supreme ordeal (the climactic lift), which she conquers, and is rewarded by being raised, both literally into the air and figuratively into divinity, demonstrating that the hero has achieved a new higher state of being, and has been permanently changed by the journey.And lo has Baby achieved enlightenment.
I hope you all took notes because this will be on the exam. Top scorers will be rewarded for their achievements in the form of sexual union with Johnny.
And I don't know about you, but I'm always confusing Dirty Dancing with The Odyssey. I keep going "Wait, which one had the lotus eaters again?"