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Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Dirty Dancing' reels in fans, 25 years on'

Mark Hilliard

Published 19/01/2012 | 05:00

'Johnny' Paul Michael
Jones with 'Baby' Elliott
Holt
'Johnny' Paul Michael Jones with 'Baby' Elliott Holt
...and with 'Penny' Charlotte Gooch

NEARLY a quarter of a century after the film version lit up the big screen, 'Dirty Dancing' the musical is pulling in Irish punters like never before.

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And although only officially opening tonight, the stage adaptation of the hit 80s movie is already the most successful event ever at Dublin's Grand Canal Theatre.

The song-and-dance extravaganza has virtually sold out -- no mean feat, given that more than 100,000 tickets were originally available for its six-week run.

But the news is hardly surprising as the show's opening in London's West End five years ago resulted in £15m (€18m) of pre-bookings, smashing all previous records.

The 1987 hit tells the story of Baby, originally played in the film by Jennifer Grey, who spends a summer with her family at a holiday camp where she meets and falls for dancing teacher Johnny Castle, portrayed by the late Patrick Swayze.

The enduring 'Dirty Dancing' also brought us the line "nobody puts Baby in a corner".

"I watched it quite a lot," admits Londoner Emily Holt (29) who plays the lead character Baby in the 48 Dublin performances.

"It's a brilliant story, that's why people are still coming now. It's quite timeless that summer holiday romance."

Paul Michael Jones, who plays the Patrick Swayze character, said he had been familiar with the film growing up as an aspiring dancer in England.

"Patrick Swayze was someone who, as a young dancer, was there to look up to because he gave it the right kind of image."

The Grand Canal Theatre run was announced in December, and interest was immediate. "It has broken box office records here already in terms of advanced ticket sales," said a theatre spokesperson.

There have been two previews and tonight's gala opening will be attended by Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny, and Nicky and Georgina Ahern, among others.

While its choreography has been adapted, the stage version -- written by original creator Eleanor Bergstein -- closely follows the film. Although virtually sold out, there are some limited tickets left for the production.

Irish Independent

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