‘Crazy For Swayze’ honors ‘Dirty Dancing’ actor
By Misha Davenport September 18, 2013 4:52PM
‘Crazy For Swayze: A Swazyical’
10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 20-Oct. 26
New Millennium Theatre Company at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield
Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door
Updated: September 23, 2013 9:05AM
In “Crazy For Swayze: A Swayzical,” Russians have invaded the United States and a band of teens are hopelessly outnumbered. Their only chance of survival is to pull Patrick Swayze away from his pottery wheel.
Yes, this might be one of the strangest ways to begin a musical, but people have come to expect such zaniness from the New Millennium Theatre Company. The troupe is known for its cheeky blends of all things pop culture. Previous shows have included “Silent Night of the Living Dead” (a mash-up of zombie films and holiday specials), “I Know What You Did Last Shermer” (a mixture of “Dawson’s Creek” and slasher films, set in the fictional Chicago suburb of Shermer that was the location for many of John Hughes’ films) and “Kill Viktor: Vol. 1 & 2” (Mary Shelley meets Quentin Tarantino).
Written by Laura Coleman, with additional material by Seven Attanasie Jr. (who co-directs with Meagan Piccochi, “Crazy for Swayze” takes nearly all the iconic film and television moments of the late actor’s career and blends them into an irreverent one-hour musical.
“One hungover Saturday morning, I watched ‘Roadhouse’ and laughed at how absolutely absurd it was,” Coleman said. “I knew there was a show in there somewhere. I sat on it for about a year. The end result is definitely in the parody genre and not a serious homage to the guy by any stretch.”
Swayze died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 57 in 2009. Coleman says the show spends more time mocking the genre of ’80s films than making a couple of laughs at the late actor’s expense.
“I love Patrick Swayze. I first saw ‘Dirty Dancing’ when I was 13 and can honestly say he was my first celebrity crush,” she said. “I’ve tried to write this as a love letter to his body of work while at the same time celebrating just how silly many of the movies from the ’80s really were.”
Michael Sherwin, who plays Swayze in the show, says he realized he had some pretty big shoes to fill.
“Patrick Swayze was one of the biggest stars when I was growing up and playing him is a daunting task,” the 39 year-old actor said. “He did everything from ‘Red Dawn’ to ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar’ and ‘Donnie Darko.’ And did I mention the guy could dance? It’s rare to have the combination of skillsets he had, let alone be able to get a chance to display all of those skills in your body of work.”
In addition to the dancing and action sequences, Swayze was also known to lose his shirt in many of his films. Sherwin said it’s a tradition that had to be honored.
“The show is definitely PG-13 for gratuitous shirtlessness,” Sherwin said, chuckling.
As for what Swayze would think of the show, Coleman says she thinks he’d be cool with it.
“I would hope he would have a good sense of humor and giggle. I don’t think he was the type of person who took himself too seriously..”
Misha Davenport is a local freelance writer.