Get ready to feel old: “Dirty Dancing” is being called a classic.
The beloved film is now a touring stage show — but it’s not your typical musical.
“It’s ‘Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage.’ It’s a jukebox musical,” explains Josh Drake, who’s the assistant dance captain, the fight captain, a swing, and the understudy for Johnny Castle, the role made famous by Patrick Swayze.
“In a musical, people start singing random dialogue,” he says. “This is different — you have people standing on either side of the stage singing ‘(I’ve Had) the Time of my Life’ while Johnny and Baby are dancing in the middle.”
We chatted with Drake about keeping the show tight on the road, and making sure no one puts Baby in the corner.
So what is your role as assistant dance captain?
When we started rehearsals in July, before the tour started in August, choreographers set the show. It’s up to the dance captain and myself to keep up the integrity of the choreography. Since I’m a swing, I get to watch some performances throughout the tour, and make sure it stays crisp and clean.
Is it weird being in the cast but also having this role critiquing the cast?
It’s an interesting role — being friends with people in the cast but also being in a place of management. We’re the liaison between the company management and the dancer. It’s hard to give notes sometimes, but you just have to get rid of that emotion, on both sides. It’s a job.
And you’re also the understudy for Johnny, right?
I wasn’t cast as the understudy. But our Johnny broke his finger. And I knew all the dances already, they asked it I was willing to step in and learn the role. I learned it within about three days! And then I was on for a month and a half.
Were you disappointed to have to give up the role?
Definitely, yeah, you feel some disappointment. But all of the creatives got to see me as Johnny, so that was great. Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote the movie, she came to see us when the show was in Cleveland. Afterward, she said “first of all, shave your face. No one would have facial hair in the ‘60s.” [Laughs] But she also said I made a fantastic Johnny – coming from her, that was so great to hear.
“Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage” is at the Academy of Music until April 5. Tickets are at www.kimmelcenter.org.