Dirty Dancing is the story of two young people from different worlds who come together, fall in love, encounter challenges but finally triumph. Based on the movie of 1987, Dirty Dancing – The Musical is now showing at the Gran Teatro Moliere in Polanco, Mexico City. The story takes place during summer of 1963, when 17 year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman (played by Ximena Nava) is vacationing in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her family and falls in love with the resort dance instructor Johnny Castle (played by Diego de Tovar).
While Baby has grown up in privileged surroundings and is expected to have a bright future, Johnny is is the bad boy dance instructor. Baby shows little interest in activities with her family and ends up at a dance party where she catches sight of Johnny Castle and gets captivated by his dance moves. During the preparation for the last show of the summer, Johnny’s dance partner Penny gets an abortion and Baby steps into her place as his new dance partner. Although Baby’s father forbids her from seeing Johnny, she starts practice dancing with him. The love story begins.
Wow! Let me tell you that the adaption from the movie to the stage is magnificent. There is a mix of passion and romance and many of our favorite songs from the 80’s! I was amazed by the stage design, especially by how the production resolved the outdoor scenes on the tree log or in the water. After 90 minutes of spectacular dancing and increasing tension, everything leads to the final performance. The beat drops and Time of my Life begins to play. At this moment I looked around the audience and could see the excitement in people’s faces. It was like everyone waited for this moment to happen. Baby runs towards Johnny, jumps in the air and he lifts her high above his head. This is the final scene of the play and probably the most iconic moment!
Before the play started, I was invited by Diego de Tovar to visit the backstage area behind the scenes. The stage is pretty impressive, it is set up with rotatory pieces that will turn according to the scene and put it all together as per the original movie sets. Diego uses five different outfits that were designed by the international production of the show. In dressing, styling, and attaching the microphone to his outfit, it takes Diego about 30 minutes to become the character Johnny Castle. While he was getting ready for the show, we did an interview that you can read as follows:
1. Congratulations on your new role as Johnny Castle in the hit show Dirty Dancing! How does it feel to play such an iconic character and what do you like the most about Johnny?
“Thank you very much! Well, for me it is a great experience everyday to portray the role of Johnny Castle. It is a great opportunity to show different sides of me not only as an actor but also as a dancer. It moves the strength of my personality and the sexiness in every dance and move I do on the stage. I do my best and the audience is getting it! I am very happy to be Johnny.”
2. Please tell us about the training and rehearsal, how did you prepare for the role?
“We had about a month to rehearse the entire show and to put together all the different scenes. I watched the movie a couple of times to get a good reference. Patrick Swayze did an amazing job on the big screen and I goal is to deliver exactly what the audience would expect or remember from that. I am an actor and a professional dancer, but it really took me a lot of hard work to learn all the dancing parts and to stay focused recognizing the personality of Johnny Castle. It is a big compromise but I remain truthful to what I feel and think when I express myself as Johnny on the stage. As a good performer I live the present moment.”
3. Dirty Dancing has been a huge international success. What do you think is the secret behind this worldwide phenomenon?
“Dirty Dancing celebrates love and passion and it is a story that people can rely to. I think it is everyone’s dream to fall in love and risk everything to make it last… and what better way to express these feelings through dancing?! Time of my Life stands for the ultimate feeling of joy and happiness, and the show delivers that feeling to the audience, no matter in what country or language.”
4. What is your favorite part of Dirty Dancing?
“I enjoy acting and dancing in every single scene of the play. My favorite two parts would be the Mambo dance with Elsi Colleen who portrays Penny and of course the last scene. When Time of my Life starts to play, the audience sings along and dances in the seats. This final performance is very exciting and resembles the spirit of the entire show.”
5. How do you spend a typical day before a show?
“I have a very disciplined routine and live by a strict diet. During the week I work out every day in the morning and before hitting the stage, I do push-ups and a full warm-up. Minutes before the show I do meditation and concentrated breathing techniques. It is important for me to remain relaxed before my first entrance but keep my body warmed-up and the energy focused. From there on, I am giving it a 100% to become Johnny Castle.”
6. When was your first role as an actor & how did it change your life from then till today?
“When I graduated from acting school, I portrayed the role of a 60 year-old man in a classical play by Gorki. We performed for a regular audience during a short-term season and I won my first award for Best Male Actor in a supporting role of the season. This recognition for my professional career gave me a lot of strength and confidence to continue my career as an actor.”
7. Dirty Dancing will show until September 18th, what are your next projects?
“I am currently auditioning for upcoming television series. Before I entered Dirty Dancing I was filming the fourth season of El Señor de los Cielos for Telemundo in Mexico City. The show is currently shown in the USA and all over Latin America.”
Congratulations to both of you, Diego & Ximena, you make Dirty Dancing – The Musical an amazing experience!