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Having the time of their lives

Showtime: Doug Carpenter plays the role of Billy and Jennlee Shallow is Elizabeth in a stage version of Dirty Dancing, which will be on stage at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets, from March 24 through April 5. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATTHEW MURPHY

Actor Doug Carpenter just turned 30, but he is very familiar with the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

“It’s a classic movie,” he said. “Patrick Swayze had charisma as a dancer and performer.”

Carpenter is participating in his first national tour, playing Billy Kostecki in a stage version of Dirty Dancing.

The show is wrapping up a stint in Cleveland, and will be at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets, from March 24 through April 5.

The love story is set in the summer of 1963, when 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her older sister and parents in New York’s Catskill Mountains. She is mesmerized by the dance moves and rhythms she discovers in the resort’s staff quarters. She becomes part of the scene and falls in love with dance instructor Johnny Castle, the character Swayze played in the movie.

The show features hit songs such as Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby, Do You Love Me? and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

Carpenter is having the time of his life.

“It’s great. It’s a good time. I’m incredibly proud of the show,” he said. “It’s a fun piece. It’s a good show.”

Carpenter sees a challenge to bringing a film script to the stage.

“It works well,” he said.

Carpenter was born in Philadelphia and lived the first 10 years of his life in the Lancaster area. His dad was in the military, and the family moved around a bit. He attended high school in Nevada and earned a bachelor of music in voice from Nevada-Las Vegas. He also has a master of music in voice from UCLA.

A New York resident, his regional credits include South Pacific, Camelot, Oklahoma and Miss Saigon. He is the only singer to win both the American Traditions and Lotte Lenya competitions.

“Both of my degrees are in voice. My strongest talent is definitely singing,” he said.

Why does he love singing so much?

“There’s something about getting in a zone, in a flow, it’s hard to explain,” he said. “It’s an awesome, creative experience. It’s exciting to get up there, the whole physical aspect of it.”

Carpenter enjoys playing Billy.

“It’s a fun show and a fun part. The character is really fun. I can be goofy and funny, and it requires vocal technique,” he said.

Carpenter has been on the road with the show for six months.

“It’s going great. Everybody has settled into their own routine and gets along. I like the touring life,” he said.

In terms of audience reaction, Carpenter likened it to the popularity of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He describes it as a shared experience.

“Audiences love it,” he said. “They go crazy for their favorite parts. It’s a really, really fun show.” ••

Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays; 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. on Saturdays; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets range from $20 to $115.50. Call 215–731–3333 or visit kimmelcenter.org/broadway

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