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Discovering love in a summer to remember

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

By Sue Kemp

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MUSIC theatre fans can expect the time of their lives at a Devon theatre this month.

The first UK tour of Dirty Dancing is coming to Plymouth's Theatre Royal for a three-week run.

Written by Eleanor Bergstein, the script writer and creator of the successful film, the production features all the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic 1987 film.

American actress Jill Winternitz stars as idealistic Baby Houseman, the role taken by Jennifer Grey in the film, who discovers love and life in the summer she will never forget.

Filling the shoes – and leather jacket – of Patrick Swayze's character is a big ask, but Rochdale's Paul-Michael Jones is more than man enough for the challenge.

He's had a head-start on preparations for the role – his parents run the Turner's Dance Centre in Rochdale, where he first learnt to dance as an 11-year-old.

He said: "The first dance I learnt was the mambo, which is obviously very helpful now that I'm in Dirty Dancing!

"Playing a part made famous by Patrick Swayze is incredible because he is someone I really looked up to when I was growing up, he's the god of dance, he made dance cool and gave it a manly vibe, which was so important for a young guy like me learning to dance.

"Rochdale wasn't really the place to dance for a guy, but a lot of my friends really enjoy it now and come and see me in shows all over the world, they are very supportive."

Paul-Michael went on to compete in the world Latin dance championships, but at the age of 17 he had been thinking of a career in the building trade until a friend convinced him to try out for theatre school. He went on to appear in a string of theatre roles, and now the 25-year-old is taking on one of the most iconic roles in popular culture. So how does it feel to follow in such big footsteps?

"It's scary," he admits with a smile. "He did such a fantastic job of it but it's equally as exciting. The audience who come to the show know they are not seeing Patrick Swayze but me and they have warmed to my character. They really enjoyed the show as a show and not just as a copy of the film, which is nice. It's nice to feel that."

Dirty Dancing is playing at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, from Tuesday, January 22 to Saturday, February 9.

For more information or to book tickets call 01752 267222 or visit www.theatreroyal.com/dancing

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