We could all use a little nostalgia right now.
The summer of 1963 was a less complicated time. It was a time of hope and idealism. John F. Kennedy was still leading Camelot. Martin Luther King Jr. was preaching nonviolent change. Rock and Roll was pure American. The longhaired Beatles had yet to invade the States. But life is always messy and things aren’t always what they seem. It turns out that no time is the “perfect” time.
We can go back to the summer of 1963 together when Dirty Dancing, The Classic Story on Stage, comes to Chrysler Hall from November 17 – 19.
Dirty Dancing, the classic movie, was released in 1987. It was a low budget movie produced by a new studio with no well-known names. It made Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey movie stars. Dirty Dancing became a huge hit and was the first film to sell over a million copies on video. Eleanor Bergstein wrote the movie. It was loosely based on her life as the daughter of a Jewish doctor. Her family vacationed each year in the Catskill Mountains.
The rumba and mamba were the dances being taught in the main ballrooms of the Catskill resorts. Dirty dancing “wasn’t mainstream.” It was a secret. “Good” girls did not dance that way. Young Eleanor Bergstein loved it.
The movie is filled with classic Rock and Roll. The soundtrack includes Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Ronettes, Otis Redding and The Drifters. “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” sung by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Dirty Dancing, the musical, has all the original great soundtracks and more. Bergstein wrote the script for the musical and was at every rehearsal. RaMond Thomas plays Tito Suarez, the suave bandleader at Kellerman’s, a swanky resort in the Catskills. In the movie, Tito is the quiet voice of reason for the resort owner, Max Kellerman. In the stage production, Bergstein expanded the role of Tito, giving RaMond Thomas a great Otis Redding song to sing and giving the show a chance to “dive a little deeper” into the race issues of the 1960’s.
RaMond grew up in Richmond and is excited to be coming “home to Virginia.” Dirty Dancing on stage is touring across the United States with over 200 shows in nine months. RaMond says, “Each night is different. It never gets old. Our cast does it a little different each night. The relationships grow and change. Live theater keeps itself fresh.”
RaMond Thomas was in a choral group as a hobby in the evenings with a regular job during the day. His choral director suggested he try out for a community theater production of Ragtime. He was surprised when he got the role of Cole House Porter, the lead with a tragic ending. RaMond is a great singer but had no acting experience.
“I forgot myself for a few hours each night and became the character,” he says. “The lines between the story and reality were blurred during the performance. It was very emotional for me.” That role led to more roles, which led to the role of Tito Suarez.
RaMond says the dancing is “brilliant.” Kaleigh Courts, who plays Baby and Aaron Patrick Craven, who plays bad boy Johnny Castle, do the iconic lift each night on stage.
The story is the same. The relationships that you know and love are all on stage. “The show will give you everything you love about the movie and more.”
For more information and show times, go to here.