Dancer having time of his life

Katherine Ryan

REVIEW: Katherine Ryan at the Portsmouth Guildhall

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A young and naive girl on holiday with her parents meets a wild dancer who shows her a summer she’ll never forget – the story of Dirty Dancing is recognised worldwide.

From an unwanted pregnancy to a couple of stray watermelons, the iconic musical is arriving at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from April 3-28 as it continues on its first national tour.

Paul-Michael Jones and Emily Holt, who are playing Johnny Castle and Baby in Dirty Dancing.

Paul-Michael Jones and Emily Holt, who are playing Johnny Castle and Baby in Dirty Dancing.

Based on the 1987 film starring Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze, it stars 17-year-old Baby who goes away with her family to the holiday resort Kellermans.

Bored of what’s on offer, she stumbles across the out-of-bounds staff area and ends up meeting the free-spirited Johnny Castle.

Paul-Michael Jones is playing the iconic role of Johnny, following in the footsteps of Patrick Swayze.

Currently in Aberdeen, he says: ‘We’re a long way from Southampton, but it’s not long now until we come down. The tour is going really well and I’m enjoying every minute.’

Having trained at the Laine Theatre Arts, Paul-Michael has performed in the stage productions of Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You, Never Forget, Jack and the Beanstalk and Fame.

He even represented England as a Latin American and Ballroom Dancer at the World Championships in Singapore last year.

Stepping into the sizeable shoes of Patrick Swayze isn’t the easiest of jobs, especially after the star’s death in 2009.

Paul Michael says: ‘It’s scary obviously, but it’s also an amazing feeling to be asked to play this role. For any young dancer, especially myself, it’s amazing because I started out doing Latin American dancing.

‘For me, at a young age, Patrick Swayze was kind of the cool role model to look up to as a young dancer. He gave a masculine feel to dancing, and to play his role is fantastic.’

He adds: ‘I know the film very well. I started watching it when I was about 11 and when I first started dancing. The first dance I was taught to do was the Mambo, which is the first dance in this show! It’s a dream role.’

Emily Holt plays Baby in the production, while Charlotte Gooch plays Johnny’s professional dance partner, Penny.

n Tickets cost £21.50 to £43.40 from the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on (023) 8071 1811 or go to mayflower.org.uk