‘Dirty Dancing’ the musical hits Boise; author Joy Williams visits BSU for spring semester

Christopher Tierney dances the role of Johnny Castle in the North American tour of “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage.”
Christopher Tierney dances the role of Johnny Castle in the North American tour of “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage.”

It’s one of those iconic movie moments that takes on a life of its own: It’s when Patrick Swayze as the seen-it-all, jaded dance instructor Johnny Castle delivers the line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” — right before the big dance finale in 1987’s “Dirty Dancing.”

It’s got the right amount of cinematic cheese, blended with a heaping scoop of sincerity and an air of nostalgia, says dancer and actor Christopher Tierney, who plays Castle in the national touring musical “Dirty Dancing —The Classic Story on Stage.”

“He just nailed it,” Tierney says.

Now Tierney delivers that line eight times a week, and it stops the show most nights. Four performances are slated at the Morrison Center this weekend.

“I remember the first time I said it, and the audience just went insane,” Tierney says with a chuckle.

Now a year and a half into the tour, Tierney has that moment — and the role — under his control. He does give a few nods to Swayze while striving to put his own mark on Castle.

“The trick is to pay homage without imitation,” he says. “That movie had such power in its time and people feel really nostalgic about it. I’ve worked to make that lightning in a bottle happen.”

Tierney is first a dancer. He started classes at 12 while his military family was in New Hampshire. A few years later he was studying and living at the National Ballet School of Canada. Tierney worked with some of the world’s top choreographers as a member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ballets Jazz de Montreal and Houston Ballet, where Swayze once trained as a dancer.

Tierney made the leap from concert dance to theater with roles in the first national tour of Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out” and the original cast of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” a show that could have ended his life. Tierney was the dancer who fell 20 feet during a performance when his safety harness broke. After successful back surgery and rehabilitation, he took a turn in several nondancing roles off-Broadway. Now, he’s back in full motion with the show.

Eleanor Bergstein wrote both the screenplay and the book for the musical, ensuring that it’s a faithful interpretation and seamless transition from screen to stage. It tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman and her family’s summer spent at a Catskills resort in the early 1960s. It all happens in a bubble of innocence before the Vietnam War, civil rights movement, the Kennedy assassination, and political and social unrest divided the country.

You’ll find all those memorable movie moments brought to life. You’ll also hear recorded 1960s hit songs from the film, plus the movie’s most famous song, “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life.” That one is sung live.

And though the show — like the movie — has received mixed reactions from critics, it is definitely a fan favorite that features some spectacular dancing.

“Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on Stage”

2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $50-$75. Ticketmaster.

News from Sun Valley

▪  The Sun Valley Film Festival announced its lineup of more than 30 features for this year’s festival, which runs Wednesday, March 15, to Sunday, March 19. This year’s highlights include five world premieres, including “Blood Road,” a documentary about Ketchum-based ultra-endurance mountain biker Rebecca Rusch’s journey along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to find the site where her father died in a plane crash during the Vietnam War. Read more at

▪  Jazz artist and Grammy winner Diana Krall will perform at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Gala at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 30 — one day after she performs at Boise’s Outlaw Field. Krall has a signature vocal style and offers original interpretations of jazz standards. Fans in Sun Valley will hear her perform music from her new album “Turn Up the Quiet” backed by the orchestra.

6:30 p.m., Sunday, July 30 (gates open at 5 p.m.), Sun Valley Pavilion, 300 Dollar Road. Tickets are $75 for lawn seating, $250, $500 (includes preconcert reception with Krall); $1,000 (includes preconcert reception and post-concert dinner with Krall) and go on sale April 15., (208) 622-5607.

Joy Williams at BSU

Luminary author Joy Williams has joined the master’s in creative writing program at Boise State University as the 2017 Visiting Distinguished Writer. Williams is teaching classes and serving on thesis committees during the spring semester.

At 73, Williams continues to write on the edge of the literary vanguard, pushing the limits of the art form to explore the human condition. She’s also been a huge influence on two generations of writers with novels such as “The Quick and the Dead” (2000). She’s written several short story collections including her most recent “The Visiting Privilege,” which includes two stories that were first published in Boise State’s literary journal The Idaho Review.

Williams will give a free reading at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 31, in the Lookout room of BSU Student Union Building.

‘Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on Stage’

2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $50-$75. Ticketmaster.

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