Theater review: 1987 hit film ‘Dirty Dancing’ comes to life at Eccles Theater despite a few missteps

Matthew Murphy

Bronwyn Reed (Baby) and Christopher Tierney (Johnny) in the North American tour of “Dirty Dancing,” which will be at the Eccles Theater through June 25.

“DIRTY DANCING,” national tour, through June 25, Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main (801-355-2787 or artsaltlake.org); running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)

It’s a bit of a risk any time creators adapt a well-loved original work. Whether the adaptation is book to movie, musical to movie or movie to stage, it can be a great success … or not.

The current national tour of “Dirty Dancing” is a bit of both. This is the musical adaptation of the 1987 megahit movie starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey that was one of the most successful independent films of all time, according to the Los Angeles Times. In a wise move, Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote the screenplay, also wrote this stage adaptation.

The plot of this stage reworking is very similar to the movie. Bergstein has added a subplot with the Kellerman nephew going off to be a Freedom Rider and a tiff between Baby and Johnny Castle over civil rights, which frankly gets in the way of the love story, which is what “Dirty Dancing” is: a coming-of-age love story. The added subplot feels like a forced effort to make the well-known, much-loved tale more relevant.

Otherwise, the plot is the same and much of the…

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