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‘Dirty Dancing’ come to Shubert stage

April 2, 2017

Despite its name, there’s nothing “Dirty” about the iconic “movement” musical coming to New Haven’s Shubert Theatre for four performances. But be assured, there’s plenty of dancin’ and a lot of love.

That’s how Christopher Tierney describes “Dirty Dancing,” the phenomenally successful 1987 romantic movie-turned-stage-musical to be presented Friday through Sunday, April 7-9.

Tierney plays the male lead, Johnny Castle, a “working stiff” dance instructor at Kellerman’s resort in New York’s Catskill Mountains, who teaches 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman — who is vacationing there in the summer of 1963 with her affluent family — all the right moves for the hotel’s end-of-season talent show. (The low-budget film turned box-office hit featured Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in the lead roles.)

“It’s an iconic musical that’s a lot of fun to do eight performances a week,” said Tierney, during a tour stop in Saskatchewan, Canada. “I love it each time ... and try to discover something new. There’s a lot more possibilities than you might think, especially if you really listen to all the actors around you.”

Born in Madrid in a military family, Tierney said he primarily grew up in New Hampshire.

“I was always on the move, a hyperkinetic kid. I became fascinated by movement, plus I loved percussion as a drummer.” So it did not surprise his family when he gravitated to tap dance.

“I played sports, but nothing was really that compelling to me. What I loved were all those great Hollywood dance musicals ... (dance stars) Gene Kelly and Savion Glover ... movies like ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ ”

Tierney would go on to study classical ballet with the National Ballet of Canada and the Houston Ballet, and contemporary dance in Montreal, Canada, and in Italy and the Netherlands. On Broadway, Tierney was in the original cast of “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.”

With a running time of nearly three hours (including a 20-minute intermission), the musical is best suited for teens and older. It features such hit songs as “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

“I think what makes it such a success,” said Tierney of both the film and stage shows, “is its sincerity, passion. It has genuine feeling ... a love story and a great ensemble piece. We bring nostalgia, warmth and happiness to people. That is what this show does for people.”

After the tour ends in June, Tierney said he will relocate from New York City to Los Angeles to “explore opportunities” there.

pasboros@ctpost.com; Twitter: PhyllisASBoros