Cast of Dirty Dancing perform famous lift at Roker beach

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The cast of Dirty Dancing rumba’d into Roker to practice the musical’s iconic lift.

Ahead of opening night at Sunderland Empire, Lewis Griffiths and Katie Eccles, aka Johnny and Baby, turned heads at the beach by performing some of the famous moves that helped make the original film a smash hit.

Dirty Dancing comes to Sunderland - 'Baby played by Katie Eccles and Johnny Castle played by Lewis Griffiths

Dirty Dancing comes to Sunderland - 'Baby played by Katie Eccles and Johnny Castle played by Lewis Griffiths

The musical spin off is a faithful recreation of the 1987 film, which features the original score including Hungry Eyes, Hey! Baby, Do You Love Me? and (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

In previous dates, it’s proved to be one of the most popular musicals ever staged at the High Street West venue and Lewis says the toe-tapping tracks have helped.

“It’s got such a broad appeal, from the pink pound to hen dos and people who’ve just discovered the film,” he explained.

Lewis steps into the dance shoes of Patrick Swayze who made the character of Johnny famous, but he says it’s important to make the role his own.

He said: “The dances are really iconic and many people have it as their wedding dance, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself. The one move I make sure I absolutely nail though is the lift, that’s the one people want to see. They come for that lift, the watermelon line and ‘nobody puts Baby in the corner’, they always get a great response every night, people go crazy.”

He added: “Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are so synonymous with the roles and we have to reference that, but it’s important that it’s our own interpretation because it’s live theatre and not a film.”

Speaking about the key to the story’s success, Katie said: “I think it’s because so many people have experienced certain aspects of the show. All girls have been angry with their dads at some point or have had boyfriend trouble. It’s just so relatable.”

As in the film, the musical is set in the summer of 1963 when 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman goes on holiday to the Catskill Mountains and meets dance teacher Johnny.

•Dirty Dancing is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, July 1. Tickets from 0844 871 3022 or

•Read our review of the show here