Dirty Dancing sweeps into Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre, the latest stop for Gareth Bailey in a three-year odyssey with the show.
Gareth started with Dirty Dancing in 2011 on the first-ever national tour, playing Robbie and first understudy to the lead role Johnny.
The following year he stepped up to lead the show as Johnny on its first-ever international tour going to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and also to Hong Kong and Singapore – all fabulous experiences.
“It is such an incredible show to tour with,” says Gareth. “All over the world, it is just so well received.
“I was in Cape Town with it for just over two months. It was amazing being in such a wonderful place with a show as great as this. It can’t get better really! Obviously, it’s a physically-demanding show, but all the performers thrive off that side of the industry, I think, the side of the industry that really pushes you physically. You have to prepare yourself for that. I go to the gym a lot. I focus on my diet. Through training alongside the show, I manage to keep my fitness above the show. The show doesn’t completely exhaust!”
So there was always the chance to enjoy the places on the international tour: “We had maybe two months break and then we went across to Hong Kong. The Asian audiences still received it really well, even though a lot of them didn’t speak English and it was still done in English. We had subtitles, and that delayed the reaction from the audience. Sometimes you said a line and then there was a pause and then you had the reaction, which was sometimes a bit strange!”
But it’s fair to say that the show itself probably speaks a universal language – and Gareth is delighted to be with it through to at least April next year.
“The show has become its own thing. It has moved away from the film. It has become this iconic piece of entertainment, with an iconic sound track, iconic scenes, iconic lifts and iconic dances – and it is all happening in front of a live audience.”
Clinching it is the fact that this is very much state-of-the-art theatre, a sign of the way theatre is going.
“It has been put together with high-definition projections and LED displays. It creates such a great atmosphere. With traditional theatre you have got the props and the scenery, but with this a lot of scenery is created through back-light, and in the wings you have got great big light boxes to project the light.”
Johnny is a great character to play: “He doesn’t come from such a privileged background, but dancing has always been his life. He has had a pretty secure job working at Kellermans which is the holiday resort which is where Dirty Dancing takes place. And then he meets Baby.
“The deeper side of him is quite insecure about his position, and he feels that he should be doing more with his life, and you see Baby pull out the more sensitive side of Johnny, the side that most people he works with just don’t see properly. They just think that he is the lady’s man, but there is more to him than than.”
Written by Eleanor Bergstein, script writer and co-producer of the successful 1987 film, the production features all the characters and original dialogue from the film with extra scenes added in.
Dirty Dancing is at the Mayflower until June 28.