TALKING DIRTY DANCING
The stage production of one of cinema’s all-time greatest love stories, Dirty Dancing arrives at Guildford’s G Live this month. We caught up with stars of the show Michael O’Reilly and Kira Malou to talk about their roles as Johnny and Baby and all-things Dirty Dancing.
A film loved by millions, what are your earliest memories of Dirty Dancing?
Kira: I remember when I was younger – I must have been about 4 or 5 actually – my mum was such a fan of the film. I remember watching it with my mum and her friends when I was really young – my mum obviously covered my eyes for the more seductive parts of the film. I remember the music, the dancing and obviously the iconic lift. I remember as well going back to the film when I was 16, 17 years old and just watching it on repeat because it’s such a feel-good film and you can’t get enough of it – I completely understand why there’s such a huge fan base.
Michael: I’m kind of similar I guess. I remember my mum watching it and being a massive fan, but I had never really watched it myself – I maybe walked in on a couple of clips of the film but I didn’t really know what it was about.
I remember getting the audition through for the show and I thought, it’s obviously a massive film – I’d love to be part of it. Flash-forward a couple of rounds of the audition and the director said to me, “have you seen the film?” and I was like, “of course I have, I totally understand what bit you’re talking about”. After the audition, I went home and thought I need to watch this film. I watched it 3 times that evening and thought ‘right okay – ready for the next round’.
It’s one of those films that has definitely stood the test of time. The music is so, so good, so, so cool. Obviously, Patrick’s a legend – I remember watching him and being like ‘wow, okay, no-pressure with the dance moves’.
What’s your favourite song from the production?
Kira: My favourite song has always been ‘Hungry Eyes’. It actually used to be my alarm when I was 16, 17. It what woke me up in the morning because it’s not your typical alarm that’ll make you moody – it’s such a feel-good song to wake up to.
Michael: I’m going to have to say ‘Time of My Life’. When we’re on stage and we’ve gone through the whole story and we’ve taken the audience on this journey. It ends with me running through the audience and jumping on stage and there’s no other feeling that I can relate it to when there are 2000 people just anticipating the song – it’s just such a climactic moment.
Aside from the music and the moves, Dirty Dancing’s a pretty gritty story -have you got a favourite scene?
Kira: You’re totally right – it’s really gritty for both of them. This is Baby growing up into a woman, and Johnny’s transformation – he’s been through a lot. My favourite scene is probably the end of Act 1, and it’s the first time that Baby admits her feelings for Johnny. She’s just grabbed her Dad in the middle of the night to help Penny, who’s just had an illegal abortion. A lot’s gone on, and instead of going home, Baby gravitates towards Johnny. He’s trying to get her out of the room, but she’s doing everything in her power to seduce Johnny to make love to him. There’s this battling scene and the tension between us on stage is insane because the words are so deep.
Michael: That’s a favourite of mine too, it’s so intense and it’s so pivotal for both characters. I think a really interesting one for Johnny is right before he’s about to leave. He’s been accused of stealing these wallets and his relationship with Baby has been found out and he’s been told he’s got to go. He’s stood there trying to say goodbye to Baby. It’s really important for the character because of where he’s come from – at the start of the play he just doesn’t care about anybody else. He’s a product of his environment and he’s had to fight to survive. We then get to this really tender, soft bit where he has to say goodbye to someone he’s really fallen in love with.
How does the live production compare to the movie? What can audiences look forward to?
Michael: In some respects, it’s exactly the same. We work with the exact same script, we try to make the costume and set as realistic as possible. The exciting thing is that when you come to the show, you know that Patrick isn’t going to be there, you know Jennifer’s not going to be there – so you’re already willing to go on this journey with us.
If there’s anyone out there that have watched the film, loved it, fallen in love with these characters and you just wished that you could have been there at Kellerman’s at that time while this was happening – that’s exactly what we do. The whole show is geared towards telling this classic story, but bringing you into this world with us and I think that’s the most magical thing we have to offer.
Kira: It’s so close to the film. When the tour production originally came out it was more of a concept and based around the music, which is such an iconic feature of the film. But they’ve developed the show a lot and we have this massive hotel on stage, which is actually a replica of the Kellerman’s resort. It’s easy for the audience to follow and will definitely make you feel like you’re there at Kellerman’s.
DIRTY DANCING / APRIL 30 – MAY 4 / G LIVE, GUILDFORD
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