How’s the tour been going so far?
We’ve been going since September, so we’re kind of in the final stretch here. We wrap up on June 26th, and it’s been great. It’s the third year that the tour’s been in the states, so we kind of have a good mixture of big cities and venues, like The Fox in St. Louis, but also with kind of some smaller places like Clearwater, where I currently am.
You’ve been going for a while. Are you over it yet?
I’m not! For one thing, it’s always wonderful to be employed and to have someone want you to work for them and do their material. And it’s my first tour, so I’m really just trying to learn as much as I can and soak it all up. But there definitely are days where it’s a little mundane, and you kind of just have to push yourself through the routine of it all. We do a lot of split weeks where we’re in cities for four days, at most. So being on four planes a week, I’m ready for that to be done.
Dirty Dancing is always such a hit wherever it goes. What do you think it is about it that gets everyone so excited?
Well of course it’s the following from the movie, which has such a fan base and people just love it. I think our audience tends to have a really great understanding of knowing that it’s going to be a wise kind of interpretation, you know. And I think that it’s about as close to the movie as we could get for a stage show, but there’s so much more to it. There are a few more scenes, and there are more musical number and some other characters that are just developed a little bit stronger. Also, I think the dancing is so much more powerful in our stage adaptation because, in the movie, you get to see Johnny and Baby dance and you’re really just focusing on their journey. But on stage, we’ve got a stage full of people behind them, filling it out and adding to these numbers.
And what is your favorite part of the show?
It’s called “The Walk Down,” which is about halfway through “Time of My Life” at the end. It’s after Johnny and Baby have done their initial start of the number, and they dance together and then Johnny comes and we kind of break into his rendition of how he is going to do the last dance of the year. He kind of gets all the kids together, and then we all just strut on down stage. We’re doing what we learned in rehearsal earlier in the show, and then it builds from there into the lift, which is iconic; it’s the moment that everyone’s waiting for.
You really get to see a dance floor full of Kellerman’s guests that are learning ballroom. You really get to see that setting. And then you get to really witness, down and dirty, the downstairs kids as they kind of do their own style and are getting into the groove, so to speak. There are additional things, some of which I believe were deleted scenes from the movie, that we’re now able to embellish; some of those little moments and those relationships, adding them back into the base story. I know one big moment that has been really beautiful to get to share across the country, especially with the election happening in the fall and just the how the times are right now, there’s a campfire scene where basically all the characters are out at this campfire at Kellerman’s resort, and Max, who owns the resort, announces that Stuart, their bus boy, and him are going down to the beach to go freedom riding. You know, it’s the summer of 1963, and then we sing “We Shall Overcome,” which is a great anthem from that time. I think that’s a really neat moment. It starts actually with the last bit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Now I know you grew up doing a lot of community-oriented theater. Can you describe those experiences and how that kind of got you to where you are today?
I just chalk everything up to my dance studio growing up, Performing Arts Centre. I started practicing when them when I was six years old. I kind of just got the bug there, they just had everything for me and they were so wonderful. I think they thought as much as I felt that my desire to try and somehow make this my life. And they got me onto the competition team, which is an amazing opportunity. Every other week I’d go to some different dance competition and you perform your numbers and it’s a great experience. Being on different stages and having judges give you feedback, and just performing constantly. I feel like my teachers there just taught me so much; so much about style, and the learning process, and how to work with choreographers. And really it’s cliché, but they taught me so much more than just dance.
by Kevin Schmidt