Dirty Dancing set to clean up at the Playhouse

YOU had the time of your life watching the film over and over with your friends, dreaming of finding your own hot Latin dancer and rebelling against your parents.

Now you’re taking Salsa lessons of a Tuesday evening with a portly middle aged guy who once dreamed of being Patrick Swayze.

All over the country, however, audiences have been reliving their Dirty Dancing days at the stage show that will be taking the Playhouse by storm this Christmas.

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But how can it possibly be Dirty Dancing without Swayze’s Johnny Castle on hand to guide you assuredly through all those slick moves?

Well, Paul-Michael Jones doesn’t half step confidently into those dancing shoes, sharing rather more than blonde highlights and Johnny Castle’s arrogant strut with Swayze.

Yet sitting meekly in his dressing room, Jones modestly downplays any comparisons, “They’re definitely massive, massive shoes to fill. I think Swayze was absolutely brilliant in Dirty Dancing. So when I got the role, I was obviously over the moon but it was scary, it’s a huge role and people are always going to expect a lot.

“There are similarities between us, my parents were both Latin dancers and his parents owned a dancing school as well.”

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Jones credits Swayze as being a big influence, particularly in helping dance gain a better status with young boys.

“I think this role is quite a special one actually, Patrick Swayze really gave dance that masculine image that so many people don’t.

“My parents own a dancing school so there was no hiding from it as a kid. There’s a lot of guys I know that danced from a young age but never told anyone about it at school. They did it at night and no one needed to know, whereas everyone knew with me and there was no getting away from it.

Dance is not the toughest thing to go to school and say you do. Especially where I’m from in Manchester, it’s not the sort of thing you do at all.

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“At least people like him gave it that cool image, and now to be able to play that role and hopefully give it that masculine kind of dance sense is brilliant.”

And there are a surprisingly large number of youngsters out there who are, in turn, being influenced by Jones.

Dirty Dancing may be considered a racy, girly show but the heart of the tale is just as much about family as it is flirtation.

Jones says, “ I think that’s why the show works so well, it fits into lots of categories. The cast often meet young kids at the stage door after the show wanting to become actors and dancers.”

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Yet Jones’ days aren’t all about being a mature role model for aspiring thesps, there’s a sudden flash of the child who fell in love with dance as Jones talks about his favourite part of the show.

“The climax at the end is probably the highlight for me. However you’ve felt, whatever sort of day you’ve had at the end of that you go away feeling brilliant. It’s a great end to the night.”

There are few in the audience who will be able to disagree.

Dirty Dancing, The Playhouse, Greenside Place, Tuesday-12 Jan, various times, £19.50 to £75, 0844-871 3014

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