Dirty Dancing on Stage Returns – Interview with the Stars of the Show
Following a sensational run on the West End as well as three hit UK tours, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage is returning, and kicked off right here in Brighton at the amazing Theatre Royal!
Ahead of what is guaranteed to be an amazing opening performance, Brighton Journal headed down to Theatre Royal to catch up with the two leads, set with the task of acting out what is easily one of the most iconic love stories in popular culture – Baby, played by Kira Malou and Johnny, performed by Michael O’Reilly. Read below to find out how the pair feel about stepping into the shoes of such famous characters and how they’ve prepared for that lift!
Hi Kira and Michael – firstly Kira, this is your second time playing Baby in this production. How does it feel to come back to the same role?
Kira: It’s really good! Last time I was the first cover, so only played Baby a couple of times, but I’m so happy to be playing the role this time. It was good coming back and kind of knowing the role, it felt a bit more chilled out. Not fully though of course! It’s still obviously been nerve-wracking, but good to be in a familiar role.
Michael, this is your professional debut – how is it joining a team that’s already worked together and performed this show?
Michael: It was actually really nice, because they knew exactly what they wanted in the set up it meant that we had loads of time after we’d blocked everything to really go into depth in a lot of scenes. Working with this team is fantastic too. I don’t think it’s until you get into the rehearsal room that you can fully appreciate what goes on and how much work goes in to make a show like this come alive. It’s been so eyeopening joining this team.
Did you find it comforting or nerve-wracking playing opposite Kira, who is more familiar with the role and the production?
M: I definitely brought a newbie energy! But Kira’s been amazing to work with, and we both just really enjoying giving it everything and going for it.
K: For me, I think that Mike brought in a new vibe. He was so excited, it was his first job and it’s nice to have a new energy.
So as it’s your first time with this character, are you going to try and draw more upon how Johnny’s been portrayed before or give him a new edge?
M: I feel like there is such a strong fan base for the show so there’s definitely a responsibility to portray the iconic Patrick Swayze Johnny, and there’s definitely an element of incorporating that into your character but at the same time, I think it’s so important to find your own version because that’s the only way you can do it – you can’t replicate someone else. If you trust yourself and your team, the story will put those iconic moments in.
Speaking of iconic moments, let’s talk about that lift in ‘Time of My Life’. It’s the most iconic scene, ever. Both of you are obviously dancers, but how does it feel do one of the most famous dance moves in film?
K: It’s amazing. I’m excited every time I do it! The song really get’s you going as well, but that lift… the moment before, I’m getting ready to run and launch myself up in the air and just praying it works and I don’t end up flying over the over side. Nothing bad has happened yet – touch wood!
M: We managed to do it today on the seafront in such strong winds for photos and it all went smoothly, so if we can do that, doing it on stage will be easy! The more you do it, you the more comfortable you feel.
The chemistry between Baby and Johnny is also hugely famous – how was it creating that chemistry on stage? Do you think dancing rather than acting makes on-stage chemistry easier?
K: We get along so well, so it came naturally. In terms of the dancing aspect, there’s so much partner work and we are physically touching so much throughout the show so we just couldn’t clash. It’s essential that we work really well together.
M: Some of the scenes are so intimate and special, that you have to approach them with sensitivity which Kira and I have been careful to do. Also, doing the same moves over and over, for eight hours a day definitely forms a bond and chemistry between two dancers.
Finally, what is the last thing each of you do before going on stage?
K: For me, I just have to breathe! Having Michael beside me will calm me down too.
M: I love being around the cast. There’s always an amazing atmosphere that gets built up, and looking in the other people’s eyes and just thinking “Yeah, we’re gonna go out and smash it.”
For ‘Dirty Dancing’ tour dates and locations, please visit the website.