As it hits the stage again, ‘Dirty Dancing’ still having the time of our lives


You know the pose. You might not know the bros.

In one of the most talked-about commercials from last Sunday’s Super Bowl, a pair of dancers got footloose to the tune of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” — the song made famous by the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing.”

Then, one took a running leap onto the other’s outstretched arms, creating the spitting image of maybe the most famous lift in cinema history.

An old clip of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze from the classic film?

Nope — two New York Giants football players, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., getting seriously goofy (though with admirably straight faces) in an ad for the National Football League.

The fact the movie is never referenced in the spot, and yet most of those watching knew exactly what was going on, tells you something about the enduring appeal of “Dirty Dancing,” one of the most gleefully cheesy creations ever to wheedle its way into moviegoers’ hearts.

So does the fact that, for the second time in three years, the live stage adaptation of the film is hitting the San Diego Civic Theatre on tour.

“Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story On Stage,” which opens Friday for a short run, preserves the story and songs from the movie, which gave the late Swayze his breakout role.

In case you somehow missed the thing: Swayze stars as Johnny Castle, a hunky dance instructor at a resort in the Catskills circa 1963. When the sheltered teen-ager Frances “Baby” Houseman arrives at the resort and meets Johnny, she becomes determined to break free from her strict family’s expectations and become the joint’s dancing queen.

The movie’s climactic scene gives us that immortal line from Johnny — “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” — just before he leads Baby into the big “Time of My Life” dance number.

As much as it’s remembered for its songs, which also include the hit “Hungry Eyes,” the movie was not actually a musical, although it did feature the late Tony Award-winner Jerry Orbach (of such musicals as “Promises, Promises” and “Chicago”) in the role of Baby’s father.

Neither, strangely enough, is the stage version — even though it has an eight-piece band, plus quite a bit of new music and material.

A musical reboot of the movie was trotted out on ABC-TV last year, with Abigail Breslin as Baby and Colt Prattes as Johnny, plus choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler of “Hamilton” renown. (The reviews, though, were not particularly kind.)

The latest iteration of the touring production is directed by Sarna Lapine, who also directed the 2017 Broadway revival of “Sunday in the Park with George,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical by her uncle, writer James Lapine, and composer Stephen Sondheim.

And starring onstage in “Dirty Dancing,” which has been touring since 2004, are Aaron Patrick Craven as Johnny and Kaleigh Courts as Baby.

By the way: It takes 22 players to field two football teams. “Dirty Dancing” has a cast of 24. With the NFL season now history, maybe Manning and Co. can do a little moonlighting.

“Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story On Stage”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown.

Tickets: About $27-$106.

Phone: (619) 570-1100


Twitter: @jimhebert