Chatting with Katelyn Prominski about her role on Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage and so much more...
Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on Stage is the broadway show bringing the iconic film to life at San Francisco’s legendary SHN Golden Gate Theater. With a script by Eleanor Bergstein, the same genius who wrote the original film, and direction by James Powell, phenomenal choreography by Kate Champion, Michelle Lynch, and David Scothford the show is continuing the success it’s seen since it premiered in 2004 and began breaking records in London in 2006. In 2013 Dirty Dancing wrapped a multi-record breaking tour across the UK and Ireland, which was seen by over one million people since 2011. Now it’s dancing across North America.
PopWrapped got the chance to talk to one of the stars of the ensemble, dancer and actress Katelyn Prominski.
PopWrapped: Tell us about Dirty Dancing - and your part.
Katelyn Prominski: It’s very similar to the film, with the same writer of the movie. There are some additions to the show that are not in the movie. But you definitely will be able to follow along. It’s very funny. We just had a resident director out here tweaking some things for us and he said that literally the woman sitting ahead of him repeated the entire dialogue. I am in the ensemble and I cover the roles of Penny and Vivian. And the show is great fun. It brings you right back to the movie.
PW: Dirty Dancing is not your run of the mill broadway show, it’s attached to a huge pop culture iconic movie. For you personally has that added some pressure to being a pet of it?
KP: I think it makes it more fun, especially because people know what to expect.When I start the show on stage and hear that first drum beat drop, and the entire audience starts freaking out immediately because they know what's going to happen. I think it adds to the level of excitement to be in a show that is so iconic. I also toured the U.S. with Flashdance, the musical, which is kind of a similar thing, a classic movie, but I think this show gets a way better reception than that show did. This show is just more known than Flashdance. I grew up with this show versus growing up with Flashdance. I feel like it’s either your chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream in that which one you gravitate to. I think it’s what most people gravitate towards. From my experience from being on this show for a year and touring with Flashdance for a year, I think people respond better to this show.
PW: The same writer for the production, Eleanor Bergstein, also wrote the movie, so do the political undertones in the movie make their way into the production?
KP: Yes. The abortion is definitely in the show; we also have an added element of MLK making his speech in this show. It’s was something that she (the author) added that I think is fascinating. And we do have, without giving too much away, there is an added element of race issues that were going on at the time that she has added into the show. It’s not in your face, but it’s there. I like it. This is a point where it’s taboo for a white woman and a black man to be together, but it was happening. I think taking note of that is fascinating.
PW: When did you get involved in the tour?
KP: I think I started at the end of June. I auditioned around March for the show. My agent had called and asked how I felt about going on tour and I said ‘Not very good,’ because I had been a lot of tours in my life and really wanted to be back in New York. And then he said ‘Well how do you feel about Dirty Dancing?’ And I loved the movie, so let’s do it. So I did.
And this was literally one of the most aggressive audition processes I had ever had. I went in 6 times in one week alone., It was nuts. They were replacing a bunch of people at the time when I joined so some of the men and women I was in the situation with, we all ended up joining together. So that was very nice. In the audition room I ended up telling Eleanor and James and Michelle (our writer, choreographer, and director) that this was the warmest audition room I’d ever been in. All of us dancers were really rooting for each other and there's so much in this audition. You really have to be vulnerable for them. There were moments of improv, and it’s so sexaully charged, that it was the warmest room I’d ever been on and I actually thanked them for that. So I started in June. And I actually sprained my ankle during the audition, it was nuts. I had food poisoning opening night. It’s been quite the journey. Everybody has been so lovely.
PW: How has your ballet background helped you in the show?
KP: The style is entirely different. I danced professionally for ten years. I danced with San Francisco ballet, amongst other companies. The track I do is considered the “leg track. So my legs are always highlighted. So I have to thank my ballet technique for giving me the clean line that makes roles like special. I think my ballet technique and everything I’ve done before has helped my partnering skills. There’s a lot of give and take and a lot of contemporary work that’s required. So it helps tremendously.
PW: What has been your favorite production that you have been a part of?
KP: This show, literally, I have never laughed so hard than when doing this show. I’ve never had so much fun as I’ve had doing this show. I have to say though my favorite role is from another show. It was right in the very beginning so it was choreographed on me. It was a show called Little Dancer, and it has Broadway in its future, hopefully. It was in Washington D.C. at the very end of 2014. It was a Susan Stroman show written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and it was at the very beginning of the show. To work day in and day out with that team was about lately unreal. And Susan Stroman is the cream of the crop in terms of human beings, I would have to say. But to be surrounded by the people she brings in? It was on fire. Every single day was something great. You were exhausted, you were tired, you were in pointe shoes, and you were doing jump splits on the ground in character shoes. It was insanity but it had to be my favorite experience. It was about Edgar Degas, and his sculpture, and one in particular (Little Dancer Aged Fourteen) was about a real person. So this was her story.
PW: What would your dream role would be?
KP: Well I retired from ballet in 2011 and I was finished performing, and then I realized I wasn't; so I moved to musical theater. I feel so blessed so blessed and lucky to do what I’ve done so far. My ultimate dream role though is to dance the girl in the yellow dress in Contact, which is also a Susan Stroman show and it’s just up my alley. I would love to do that. I would love to do my role in Little Dancer on Broadway... My first dance after I returned was Flashdance, and then after that closed I was like “I could retire tomorrow and be satisfied.” And then came my next show, and my next show, and my next show… If I never book another show tomorrow I’m incredibly satisfied and happy with what I’ve done. But if I get to play the girl in the yellow dress that would just be the cat’s pajamas.
PW: How long do you left on the tour? And what’s next for you?
KP: We have dates through June. They release out dates so far in advance. So I’m not sure what is going on after June. And I’m getting married in September - so that is what is next on my agenda.
Huge thanks to Katelyn Prominski for taking the time to chat with us!