Johnny, Baby, corners

Dirty Dancing

My earliest memories of “Dirty Dancing” involve a dusty VHS tape propped in my parents’ living room. Our old wall unit with the TV at its core had movies tucked into every nook and cranny. The bright-colored script on the spine of the box always got my attention, but I was told it was a “grown-up” movie.

I wanted desperately to watch it, of course.

I can’t remember my very first viewing (sometime in the ’90s, inevitably), but I remember later ones — and when my grandmother asked if we’d be interested in seeing a stage version at the National Theatre for a girls’ afternoon, we didn’t hesitate.

It was awesome.

Steamy. Very steamy.


In high school, I was the consummate theatre geek — and even headed up our school’s thespian society in my final year. I hung with drama geeks and was a drama geek . . . probably stereotypically so. But I loved the heck out of it. Most of my friends were my partners in crime on stage, and I can’t separate my memories of my teen years without remembering the highs and lows of all those moments in and out of the spotlight. (Fun fact: I was even the lead in Jane Austen’s “Emma” senior year. And I didn’t really know who Jane Austen was at the time, so: progress.)

Going to see shows as an adult is an entirely different experience, of course — mostly because, you know, these are professionals. This performance of “Dirty Dancing” was as expert as you’d expect from a show with an activity in the title. I was mesmerized by the angle of their bodies, how effortlessly they moved across the stage. Given I’m incredibly uncoordinated and feel embarrassed at the mere idea of dancing in public (save my own wedding), I was very impressed.

My sister and cousin said most of the dialogue was straight out of the movie, and I recognized many pivotal scenes. Several of the women to my right were getting quite excited during the performance, whistling and shouting like teenyboppers as the lights came up on a shirtless Johnny with Baby appearing at his door. When Johnny delivers the movie’s most famous line, the audience erupted.

We knew where it was going — and that spoiled nothing. If anything, it made it better.

Though theatre hasn’t been a huge part of my life in the decade since high school, I feel so energized at live performances — and want to remember that moving forward. Time and money can be tight, but there is something electric about great musicals . . . and I was still tapping my foot all day Sunday. Our day was rounded out with lots of time chatting with wonderful family at dinner afterward, all of us buzzing, and our girls’ afternoon at “Dirty Dancing” was very well spent.

Especially as the whole audience sang and clapped along with “Time of My Life.” It’s pretty much mandatory.

And oh, that Johnny.

Weekend wrap-up: Valentine’s and loving Lincoln edition

We had a pretty fun and different holiday weekend — Palmer and I went with my parents to the newly-renovated Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. to see “The Heavens Are Hung In Black,” a new play based on the life of Abraham Lincoln following the death of his young son during the onset of the Civil War. The play was a tad long, but the two intermissions helped break up a little of my sleepiness! We were seated in the very last row of the balcony, but we could see very well. I thought the show was expertly done, and the acting superb — and hey, I could hear most everything that was being said! That’s a definite edge over some plays I’ve attended in the past.


Outside the Elephant & Castle

After the show, we walked down to have dinner at the Elephant & Castle — a British pub just a few blocks away! We had a great dinner — I got fish ‘n’ chips! — and pretended like we were back in London. The warm pub pretzels were a big hit. And, of course, we couldn’t head home before stopping at a bookstore — so it was off to the giant Barnes & Noble by our parking garage!

I was bad and got two books (and paid full price — gasp!) — Little Women and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. After reading Geraldine Brooks’ March a few weeks ago, I was astonished to realize I’ve never read the classic Louisa May Alcott novel on which it’s based! I found the B&N classic version, which was only $6.95. I can spring for it. And The Book Thief is supposed to be incredible, and I love literature based on Jewish characters… so I went for that, too! Not that I’m, you know, wanting for anything to read… I’m ashamed to actually show my TBR stack at the moment. My “stack” has actually become three stacks, and I’m worried that a slight brush of my arm or foot will send one or all completely crashing to the ground! I probably have 60 books waiting for me, easy. That terrifies me a bit. I’m stuck in the middle of Elizabeth Noble’s The Reading Group — I’m enjoying it, but it’s… long. And there are about a million characters. I like all of them, but trying to keep track of them is proving headache-inducing.

Speaking of books — Mom found this cool bag boasting two wonderful bookish quotes! I wasn’t prepared to shell out $14.95 to own said bag, but I did snap some photos. And hey, the first one is from none other than Abe Lincoln himself!



Back out into the bold (acting) unknown

Cast of "Sweet Charity" at TSHS, 2003. Can you find me?

Cast of "Sweet Charity" at TSHS, 2003. Can you find me? 🙂

Tomorrow night, I’m taking a gigantic leap out into the bold unknown.

I’m auditioning for a play.

It’s been three years. Three years since I tried out for a show! I was a huge theatre buff in high school — I racked up about a dozen roles in my four years in my school’s department. It’s where I met some of my best friends then, and where I splayed out for hours running lines and blocking and practicing. In all of my adolescent exuberance, I memorized countless lines and attempted to sing in productions like “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Sweet Charity.” And even if I was pretty horrible, I was nothing if not dedicated!

Since then, time has obviously become a high-priced commodity. I was way too busy in college to even think about auditioning for community theatre. I did audition for one show in 2005 — one crazy hot summer evening — but I was doing it for the wrong reasons: I was desperate to have something to chew up all of my time after a nasty break-up, so I went in for a part with my head and heart all broken up.

This time, I’m definitely not broken — but I do have ulterior motives. As Palmer gets ready to leave for the Air Force and I’m here with my family, friends and full-time job to keep me company, I’m still going to have plenty of time over the next few months that I would love to fill up with something other than longing and anxiety! I’m writing, yes, but I write all the time. I need something more.

And our community theatre in Southern Maryland is performing A Man For All Seasons in March.

I have no idea how many female roles there are. I have no clue if I’m going to absolutely suck after all this time. I don’t know if this is something I’ll keep up with — or realize was just a part of my high school experience, walking away and leaving it at that.

But I know I have to try.

And here’s to trying!

Here’s my monologue . . . I have it mostly memorized. That’s what tonight will be for!