ROSEANNA Frascona first came to the Capital when she was 18. This week she returns to star as Baby in Dirty Dancing, at The Playhouse, alongside Gareth Bailey as Johnny Castle.
“When I was 18, I came to Edinburgh - my first ever little tour. I have really fond memories of the visit. I remember walking around, thinking how pretty it was and how I’d happily live here when I was older.”
Based on the 1987 blockbuster starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing tells the story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives, thanks to a dance competition.
Playing such an iconic role as Baby hasn’t been without its challenges, Frascona reveals.
“It’s bizarre for me because I’d never seen the film, which makes me pretty different from most of the others who have played Baby. I’ve seen the film now, though, and become aware of how important she is to people since taking on the part.”
Bailey has even bigger shoes to fill - those of Swayze.
“Johnny is a highly demanding character to play,” he says. “He’s off stage very little. One thing I did when finding the character was to avoid the film. Once I’d found where Johnny sat with me, and was confident with how I was playing the part, I went back and revisited the movie to see if I could take bits of inspiration from it. Things I could put into my own portrayal.”
Bailey first joined Dirty Dancing in 2011 when he played the role of Robbie, while understudying Johnny. He then toured to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and Singapore with the show, before joining the West End cast.
“Since I started my journey with the character, it’s been good to be able to practice off stage. It takes a lot of preparation.”
Featuring the hit songs Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby, Do You Love Me? and, of course, I’ve Had The Time of My Life, the stage production is a fast-paced explosion of song and dance, culminating in Dirty Dancing’s signature ‘lift’, something that gave Frascona food for thought.
“I kept being reassured by choreographer Glenn Wilkinson that I was going through exactly what Baby would be going through. Any time I was frustrated with myself I just kept reminding myself that was how Baby would have felt when she was learning the dance,” says the actress.
Famously, the Dirty Dancing tour has attracted some raucous audiences, and Bailey observes, “It always amazes me how universal the language of Dirty Dancing is. The stage adaption has given it a rebirth, opening it up to an audience who didn’t know it before.
“It’s now this live piece of musical theatre with an eight-piece band, which gives it a whole different atmosphere, and people who loved the movie are now coming to watch the show for that very reason.”
Chances are, they’ll all have the time of their lives.
Dirty Dancing, Playhouse, Greenside Place, tonight-14 March, various times, £23.90-£79.90, 0844-871 301