Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Story, More Music in 'Dirty Dancing' Adaptation for the Stage; It's about the Moving Story and Soundtrack of the Writer's Heart

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Story, More Music in 'Dirty Dancing' Adaptation for the Stage; It's about the Moving Story and Soundtrack of the Writer's Heart

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Eleanor Bergstein may have danced in a style that everyone called dirty dancing when she was a young girl. And she may have spent time vacationing with her father, a doctor, and the rest of her family in the Catskills as a teenager.

But don't call the 1987 movie musical "Dirty Dancing," which Bergstein wrote and co-produced, or the musical "Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage" which she adapted from the movie in 2004, an autobiographical movie. That stage version of "Dirty Dancing" opens Tuesday at the Moran Theater with the first of eight performances.

"It's really not the story of my life," Bergstein said in a recent telephone interview.

She wasn't writing an autobiography with the story of Baby, the sheltered young woman with dreams of joining the Peace Corps, who spends a summer learning to dance from and falling in love with Johnny Castle, a dancer from the wrong side of the tracks.

What Bergstein was really trying to do as she wrote "Dirty Dancing," she said, was talk about a moment in time, 1963, the year Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech and the year before the Beatles and the rest of the British invasion transformed pop music in America.

"Martin Luther's King's voice was the animation for Baby," she said.

What she wanted to do in "Dirty Dancing" was tell a story about a society on the cusp of change while honoring "the wonderful black music" that was still dominating the Top 40 airwaves.

"I knew what I loved to dance to," said Bergstein, who still has some of the trophies she won in Dirty Dancing contests as a teen. "It's very much a story of that music and those rhythms."

Honoring that music wasn't easy, she said. Hollywood producers didn't think much of the movie's chances of scoring at the box office. The people who owned the rights to all music she loved weren't interested in her story either.

"There were so many songs I couldn't afford," she said.

Other songs she couldn't even get a response on. She kept trying to contact Mort Shuman, a composer whose songs included "A Teenager in Love," "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance For Me. …

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