Ten years on, Dirty Dancing returns to Sydney

Kurt Phelan (Johnny) and Kirby Burgess (Baby) photo by Jeff BusbyTen years after its world premiere, the worldwide hit musical Dirty Dancing returns to Sydney tonight in its Gala Premiere at the Lyric Theatre.

Two extraordinary young talents are making the leap from chorus to leading roles as the two iconic characters in this much loved musical production. The role of charismatic dance teacher Johnny Castle is played by Kurt Phelan while the role of innocent young Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is played by Kirby Burgess.

A NIDA graduate, Phelan is an actor, choreographer and writer. His musical theatre credits include Singin’ in the Rain, Witches of Eastwick, Saturday Night Fever and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Burgess has been seen on stage in Sweet Charity, An Officer and A Gentleman, Hairspray, High School Musical – Live on Stage, LOVEBiTES, and on Network Ten’s television drama, Wonderland.

Returning to the role which shot her to stardom ten years ago, for a limited engagement, is Nadia Coote as Penny Johnson. Young classical music singer Mark Vincent makes his musical theatre debut as Billy Kostecki, Johnny’s cousin.

Baby’s father and mother, Jake and Marjorie, are played by Adam Murphy and Penny Martin, and her older sister Lisa by Teagan Wouters. Hotel owner Max Kellerman is Mike Bishop and making his professional debut as Neil Kellerman is Gabriel Brown. In the role of Mr Schumacher is Barry Mitchell and Tito Suarez is portrayed by Eric Rasmussen.

The ensemble includes Erinn Arnel, Kyla Bartholomeusz, Charles Bartley, James Bryers, Aaron James Campbell, Amy Campbell, Anna Freeland, Kim Hudman, Elysha Manik, Sam Marks, James Maxfield, Chris Ostrenski, James D Smith, Hannah Stanton and Mitchell Woodcock.

“We have assembled an exceptional cast for this 10th Anniversary production of Dirty Dancing,” says Producer John Frost. “Dirty Dancing is a wonderful Australian success story, and I’m thrilled to bring it back to Australia.”

“The stage musical gave audiences the chance to hear the songs from the hit film performed live and to experience the breathtaking dance routines. People flocked to it, breaking records all around the world. Now, ten years after the World Premiere in Sydney, it returns home to where the magic began with a sensational new cast, and audiences can again have the Time Of Their Lives.”

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing. On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, Baby shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the staff quarters when an all-night dance party is in full swing.

Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor. Baby’s life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.

Featuring hit songs including Hungry Eyes, Hey! Baby, Do You Love Me? and the iconic (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, Dirty Dancing has become one of the most popular musical productions of all time.

Following its season at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, Dirty Dancing will play the Princess Theatre (Melbourne) from 1 March 2015, QPAC’s Lyric Theatre (Brisbane) from 27 May, and Burswood’s Crown Theatre (Perth) from 2 August. For more information, visit: www.dirtydancingaustralia.com for details.

Image: Kurt Phelan as Johnny Castle and Kirby Burgess as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing – photo by Jeff Busby