Our pole-dancing reporter gets a dirty dancing lesson from musical star + VIDEO

Have your say

IT’S A classic love story of girl meets boy, with a soundtrack guaranteed to get feet tapping and fingers clicking.

Set in the summer of 1963, naive-but-feisty 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman, played by Jill Winternitz, is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.

Reporter Jane O'Neill with Dirty Dancing star Paul-Michael Jones

Reporter Jane O'Neill with Dirty Dancing star Paul-Michael Jones

The New York teenager goes on holiday with her family to the Kellerman’s resort in the Catskill Mountains and is literally swept off her feet when she develops a crush on the resort’s dance instructor Johnny Castle.

She stumbles upon a secret world where the staff strut their way through raunchy all-night dance parties.

Passion and dance come together with explosive results, and after a dramatic chain of events, Baby’s life changes forever as she becomes Johnny’s leading lady both on and off-stage.

Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage is wowing audiences on its first nationwide tour, with slinky-hipped Paul-Michael Jones playing suave dance instructor Johnny.

Reporter Jane O'Neill with Dirty Dancing star Paul-Michael Jones

Reporter Jane O'Neill with Dirty Dancing star Paul-Michael Jones

Paul-Michael, who swaps his Manchester accent for a Transatlantic twang on stage, represented his country on the dancefloor in the world Latin dance championships in 2003.

With his parents running a dance school in Rochdale, it seems inevitable that he would follow in their twirling footsteps.

But it wasn’t until he was 11 that Paul-Michael pulled on his dance shoes to learn the steps that would eventually lead him to a life on the stage.

“I lived in north Manchester and no other boys my age did dancing, but I wasn’t any good at football.

Reporter Jane O'Neill with Dirty Dancing star Paul-Michael Jones

Reporter Jane O'Neill with Dirty Dancing star Paul-Michael Jones

“My parents owned a dance school and eventually I got into it,” he said.

After retiring from the world of competitive dance, he took a short break before enrolling in drama school and has already appeared in musical extravaganzas Mamma Mia and Take That-based musical Never Forget.

On learning I had never seen Dirty Dancing, the 26-year-old dancer kindly filled me in on the basics.

He explained: “It is a boy meets girl love story. It is a romance with a fantastic soundtrack with some extremely exciting dancing.

“It’s ballroom and Latin dancing, that they did in the 60s.

“Johnny is quite the alpha male of the place. He has a dance partner called Penny who he is very close to.

“He teaches guests to dance at the holiday camp and falls in love with Baby.”

A simple breakdown of a story that has thrilled audiences around the world since Dirty Dancing the film was released in 1987.

Although when I spoke to “Johnny” I hadn’t seen the cult flick starring Patrick Swayze, it inspires heartfelt childhood memories from devotees.

While I was hanging from trees and falling off my BMX, other girls my age were grabbing their hairbrushes to sway their way through classics like Hungry Eyes and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

And its popularity has seen the musical of the ultimate chick flick receive scorching reviews, as it cha-cha-chas its way through a nationwide tour which still has nine months to run.

Rapturous receptions around the UK has kept it on the stage for up to two months at some venues and hoards of fans will be crowding into Sunderland Empire between now and the final show in October.

Ecstatic, mostly female theatre goers, will whoop and cheer at classic lines, including “I carried a water melon” and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”.

With so much hype, slipping into the role of ultra cool Johnny, with his shades and leather jacket, can’t have been an easy task.

Despite being just a year old when Dirty Dancing the film was released, Paul-Michael already had been unwitting preparing for the role for years.

One of the first dance he learned was the mambo, which Johnny and his sexy siren dance partner Penny, played by Nicky Griffiths, open the show with at Kellerman’s.

I might not have seen the film, but the soundtrack catapulted me back to school discos and it was impossible not to get caught up in the Dirty Dancing fever.

Twitter: @janethejourno