Monday 20 November 2017

They're having the time of their lives

stars of the musical dirty dancing can't believe their luck, they tell chris wasser

It can't be easy, recreating one of the most adored movies of all time in the theatre. But Emily Holt and Paul-Michael Jones already have one up on Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze. The original Johnny and 'Baby' may have done a fine job convincing the world of their undying love in 1987's Dirty Dancing but, in real life, things weren't always cosy between the pair. So, it's as well that Holt and Jones -- the stars of Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage -- started out on good terms.

"He's an awesome partner," adds Holt (29). " It makes such a big difference to work with somebody that you get on with."

Good vibes all round, then. Which may take some of the pressure off. After all, Eleanor Bergstein's classic (and semi-autobiographical) tale of a holiday romance on the dance floor made $170m at the box office and, 20 years on, DVD sales reached an all-time high -- and the musical based on the film (which debuted in 2004) has broken West End records.


Five million audience members later, and the demand for the extravagant stage show continues to grow, as the cast and crew head out on tour.

"There's a lot of pressure," says Jones. "It is quite scary to kind of fill those shoes of being someone who everyone likes. "

Still, for Holt, it was important to let go of the film once the audition process was over. "It would just become this huge responsibility and weight that you're trying to sort of emulate," says the London-based actress. "You just have to let it go and trust that you'll get there yourself."

Jones wasn't always sure about a career in dance. "It's just not the cool thing to do, for a guy," he explains, "especially round where I live. But I suppose that's what was good about Patrick Swayze. He was one of the guys that gave it a real manly vibe."


Jones and Holt are no strangers to the stage. Previous experience includes small roles in Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You (Jones), and Grease (Holt). The latter also starred in the 2010 TV miniseries The Pillars of the Earth.

It was the brief time that the pair spent with the woman behind it all that proved most worthy when preparing for the show.

"Having a 10-minute chat with Eleanor Bergstein was worth a hundred times more than that," says Holt. "Because she experienced it -- it was her childhood. It was her life."

Dirty Dancing -- The Classic Story on Stage runs at the Grand Canal Theatre from January 17 until February 25

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