'The Goldbergs': Inside the Show's 'Dirty Dancing' Tribute

Singer-actress Hayley Orrantia talks with THR about doing the famous "lift."
Danny Feld/ABC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Goldbergs' Dirty Dancing tribute episode.]

ABC's The Goldbergs went full Dirty Dancing during the ABC comedy's annual tribute episode on Wednesday night.

The 1980-something comedy mixed Dirty Dancing with Footloose for a school dance-themed episode that saw Erica (Hayley Orrantia) abandon her usual voice of reason and take a page from mother Beverly's (Wendi McLendon-Covey) playbook to bring their Dirty Dancing dreams to fruition.

The episode resulted in Erica and her suitor Geoff (Sam Lerner) following in the footsteps of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze to complete the famous "lift" from Dirty Dancing. Only it wasn't without effort — like the movie, Erica's first attempt fizzled and the eldest of the Goldberg children face-planted into a table filled with treats.

"To successfully do the lift, it took seven takes," Orrantia says with a laugh, noting that both she and Lerner practiced for a week and a half to successfully pull the scene off. "We had cables that I was attached to because there was no way in hell me and Sam would pull off the lift! We had to learn how to make it look real and there was some of my weight on Sam but it took a few tries."

The young actress wasn't sure what her role would be in the annual tribute episode — the show's third following Goonies and Ferris Bueller's Day Off in seasons one and two, respectively — and found out that she'd be stepping into Baby's dance shoes during the table read for the series. Orrantia, an accomplished singer-actress who was a member of Lakoda Rayne — the all-girl group assembled by Simon Cowell during the first season of Fox's The X Factor — says she was excited about the thought of taking on the iconic role of Baby (Grey). "I was excited to dance," the actress says, noting she was obviously already familiar with Dirty Dancing.

"I was very familiar with the story — and the iconic line, 'Nobody puts Baby in the corner,' which we managed to put into the show," Orrantia says.

The actress says she didn't reveal that she had dancing skills during her first conversation about the Dirty Dancing tribute with showrunner Adam F. Goldberg, whose life serves as the inspiration for the sitcom.

"He didn't know at all — if anything, it was funnier in his mind if I didn't know how to dance," says the high school dancer who has shown off her singing skills multiple times on the series. "It had been a long time and I was excited that I got to do it again."

As for the show's next tribute, Orrantia keeps pitching another John Hughes movie: "I keep rooting for Breakfast Club because it'd be hilarious to have [Barry and Geoff's crew] JTP in detention. I have a few other ideas — we could play on 16 Candles — but there's a bunch we can pull off," she says.

As for Geoff, meanwhile, Orrantia remains mum if Erica will give him the time of day after he also came up big in the show's Valentine's Day episode.

"They've been playing with that idea all season," she says.

What did you think of The Goldbergs' Dirty Dancing episode? Sound off in the comments.

Click here for more true stories from the 1980-something set of The Goldbergs and to see the showrunner's office collection.

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