Encore Michigan

Ringwald spins ‘Dirty Dancing’ into prancing

Review July 16, 2017 Tanya Gazdik

FERNDALE, Mich. — Everything old is new again, and that includes the classic movie “Dirty Dancing,” offered up as a gay parody by The Ringwald as its “Summer Camp” feature.

Dyan Bailey and Brandy Joe Plambeck’s adaption of the 1987 movie for the stage, Dirty Prancing, is funny even if you haven’t seen the original—or have’t seen it in so long that you’ve forgotten some of the elements mentioned.

That said, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend the hour and 40 minutes to watch or re-watch the movie before heading to the play. You’ll be glad you did because the references will be more vivid. As one Amazon Video reviewer said, it’s the second-greatest movie of all time, second only to “Gone With the Wind.” Even for those who found the original movie a little schmaltzy or cliched, you’ll enjoy this presentation, which invites the audience to “Have the gayest time of your life.”

A well-done video sets the scene for the action at a resort in New York’s Catskill Mountains, circa 1963.

All eight actors give top-shelf performances, but Manning Goldman steals the show as Penny, who in the movie has to take a break from dancing due to getting an abortion. Obviously, the medical issue is something else in the play and I won’t spoil it by spelling it out, but let’s just say Goldman pulls it off and then some. He is truly a gorgeous woman with legs that don’t stop and he knows how to use them.

Jake Rydell, who at only 19 is a newbie actor, is convincing as Baby, the initially naive character who has a summer awakening. The scene where he and Mike Suchyta (Johnny) recreate the scene in the movie where the two characters mouth the lyrics to the old “Love is Strange” song (“How do you call your lover boy?”) is flawlessly executed and a highlight of the play. Their dancing, choreographed by Suchyta, is reminiscent of the movie, with some terrific all-cast numbers thrown in. Wear your dancing shoes because the audience is invited to join in on the final scene of the play.

One of the play’s most clever moments is how the cast creatively recreates the scene from the movie where the two leads are working on their dance moves while in the water. It’s remarkable that the writers so artfully transitioned the movie to the small stage, and did it well and with spot-on humor. The dining scene at the beginning just after the family has arrived at the resort is hilariously executed. Bailey Boudreau (Lee/Vick) most definitely knows how to eat a banana. Boudreau nails the movie’s sibling rivalry relationship very well.

At just over an hour without an intermission, the one-act flows nicely along. There is one brief scene with nudity and a lot of gay sexual innuendo, so leave the pre-teens at home. If you are looking for a light-hearted and nostalgic evening, this is the play for you. And if you loved the movie, run, don’t walk, to a performance because you won’t be disappointed.

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Week of 7/17/2017

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