The wet-knickered waiting for the casting of Dirty Dancing for stage is over. According to the Daily Mail, a complete unknown will play the coveted role of Baby (whom nobody puts in a corner) – but a little closer reading reveals that the lucky actress has already been in the West End, starring opposite no less than Dame Diana Rigg in Honour at the Wyndham’s Theatre and in two Shakespeare plays at the Crucible in Sheffield.
The “complete unknown” is Georgina Rich, 29, who graduated from RADA two years ago and has dancing and singing experience from three years’ training at the London Studio Centre. She will be playing Frances “Baby ” Houseman in the stage adaptation of the well-loved film – and there’s no pressure on her at all, of course not. It’s just that… when tickets went on sale, the first two months sold out in six weeks and brought in more than £3 million in advance sales – and the film remains the all-time favourite of thousands of footloose fans. The chemistry had better be there between Rich and stage partner Josef Brown or else lots of fans are going to cry. Brown is a former principal dancer for the Australia Ballet and has played Jonny Castle, the Patrick Swayze role in the Australian stage of production of Dirty Dancing since November 2004.
Another thing that might make the fans cry when they finally get their chance to see Dirty Dancing in the flesh is the ringing of mobile phones during the performance. The bleeping and booming of phones in theatres has driven actors to lobby for a change of law so that mobile phones can be electronically blocked from working in auditoriums. Specially designed devices could be installed to block mobile phone signals and to keep performances free from unnecessary interruptions about what to have for dinner and whether or not everyone knows where to go on Saturday.
We’d love to see this put into place; after all, there is no place for the Crazy Frog in Hamlet. And nobody wants to see Jonny mess up that famous lifting dance move with Baby because an irritating polyphonic version of A-Ha’s Take On Me peals out across the stalls just as she leaps towards him. Well, we’re quite sure that apart from the thousands of hopefuls who were beaten by Georgina Rich to the role of Baby nobody wants to see that…