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Dirty Dancing hits Hong Kong

By Rebecca Lo (China Daily)

13:49, April 22, 2013

Bryony Whitfield stars as Baby with Gareth Bailey as Johnny in Dirty Dancing. (China Daily)

Dirty Dancing sashays into Hong Kong with its classic coming-of-age story performed by an international cast to get everyone dancing in the aisles. Rebecca Lo reports.

I first saw Dirty Dancing on VHS alongside a group of girls all in our late teens in my dorm's common room. It was my first year in university and I had no expectations for the 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, dismissing it as yet another sentimental chick flick.

About half an hour into the movie, most of us were on our feet dancing along to the infectious '60s and '60s-inspired songs.

We swooned over the sexy grinding of Swayze's Johnny Castle bad boy mambo instructor, and envisioned it was us being taught all the right moves instead of Grey's Baby Houseman.

When Eleanor Bergstein adapted her screenplay into a musical sensation staged internationally in Australia, Germany and England, it topped my checklist on a London trip a few years ago.

The sold-out audience in the Aldwych Theater was comprised mostly of women with their mothers, daughters or girlfriends who watched their first love enacted before them: the bittersweet memories, the passion and the way it made them get up and dance.

Hong Kong audiences can find out for themselves what the all hoopla is about with an extended four week run of Dirty Dancing, directed by Alan Swerdlow and starring Bryony Whitfield in the role of Baby. Produced by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, it features a live orchestra and an international cast.

The tour was previously in Cape Town, with a total of 178 props, more than 300 costumes, 15 kilometers of cable and 5 kilograms of hairpins all being shipped by cargo vessel to Hong Kong's Cultural Center.

"It is a big show," nods Swerdlow. "Part of my job is to make sure that the show is absolutely up to standard and exactly the way it was first rehearsed and performed so that the local audience will have the same experience they would if they were watching the show in London's West End."

Swerdlow believes that one of the reasons Dirty Dancing remains such a massive hit is because the story resonates with people deeply.

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