REVIEW: Put on your dancing shoes for TPAC performance of ‘Dirty Dancing’

Bestowed upon me was a night of lights, fun, cheesy yet witty one liners and cheekily provocative costumes, all demonstrably coming together in one of the basic facets of human cultural history: dancing. But not your conventional sort of dancing. It was dancing characterized as sensuous, voluptuous and inebriating. Dirty Dancing it was.

First, I will give a brief overview of my appreciation for the ease of the facility. The building was clean, smelled nice, was presented and organized well, and I had no problem figuring out where the bathroom was,as that is of higher importance at these sorts of things.

I was very impressed with the facility, as it was my first time being there. The lobby was beautifully simple and modern, almost to the effect of a movie theater. Another part of the facility that was not being used was extravagantly beautiful with sculptures and artwork and impressively designed carpeting. I felt at home and comfortable, and I allowed myself to settle in.

The production was intoxicatingly fun. As for the story itself, it is a staple of neo-romantic American Culture circa 1978. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her family in the summer of 1963. Low and behold she meets the charming and rough-around-the-edges Johnny Castle who teaches her the art of “Dirty Dancing”. Subsequently they fall in love, and through this, tension between Baby’s father and Johnny arises. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center beautifully put on a clean, digitally enhanced rendition of “Dirty Dancing”, that left me grasping for more. The actors were larger than life, the costumes complimented the mood and tone of each scene, and the music was irrevocably tightly performed. The TPAC has done their homework, once again, just like they have done for 35 years.

Some things threw me off during the performance that were more than likely technical flukes that are an inherent curse of opening night. As Baby is training with Johnny, at first she is awkward and uncomfortable while learning to dance, and this is made fairly blatant through the acting. However, as she progresses, her awkwardness and rigidity remain, and there are visibly multiple slip ups in her dance movements. If these are supposed to be subtle nuances, they should be more pronounced, so as to make it more obvious to the audience that Baby still has not gotten the hang of it. During the performance it was unclear if Baby did not know her steps, or if the actor herself did not know her steps. The second thing was that in the first act of the show, the audio was seriously unbalanced, and made it difficult to hear the main actor.

The performance was dazzling, and I left the theater thinking that I should really take up dancing.

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center will be dancing dirtily for a limited, one week time frame, from Sept. 22-27.

This article was written by Erik Gleim.

#DirtyDancing #PerformanceReviews #TPAC

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