Have the ‘Time of Your Life’ on Saturday night

THERE won’t be anyone put in the corner at the weekend as the cast of Dirty Dancing ‘Time Of Your Life’ aim to give you exactly that.

The singing and dancing fivesome are arriving at The Maltings with another fab five, Girls 2 Loud, for a sell out night of entertainment that is bound to get everyone in the party mood.

And the job of keeping the spirit of original ‘Dirty Dancing’ star Patrick Swayze alive and well is bestowed on the shoulders of Andy Stead who said that the deceased actor was most definitely a hard act to follow.

“Patrick Swayze was, no still is, an absolute legend,” Andy told ‘In The Limelight’.

“Me and my wife Karen, who plays Baby in the show, have always been massive fans of ‘Dirty Dancing’ and we did songs from it in another production we perform in so we thought why not do a whole show dedicated to it.

“Like everyone we were saddened by Patrick’s death and it kind of spurred us on even more. He made the part of Johnny his own and I just hope I do him justice.”

Although Patrick Swayze’s song ‘She’s Like The Wind’ features in the film version of ‘Dirty Dancing’ and had many teenage girls swooning in the 80s, he never actually sang it on screen, whereas Andy and his fellow ‘Time of Your Lifers’ sing live on stage as well as shaking their tailfeathers in a way any Dirty Dancer would be proud of.

But Andy said that making such that both his voice and feet were on top form night after night wasn’t always so easy.

“Performing songs from ‘Dirty Dancing’ means singing tracks by the likes of Otis Redding and some other great soul singers and although I love doing them, they can be quite challenging, especially when there’s plenty of energetic dance moves to perfect as well.

“But if my vocals decide to have a bad night I just avoid going for the really high notes and I think when the audience see you dripping with sweat at the end of a routine they’re prepared to forgive you.

“We went to see the West End version of ‘Dirty Dancing’ a while ago and although we enjoyed ourselves we went away a bit disappointed that they used a lot of playback for the routines; meaning that the dancers were just performing to the soundtrack.

“All of our songs are live and the fact that we’ve got our microphones means that we can really interact with the audience and get them joining in.”

With the ‘Dirty Dancing’ motion picture soundtrack winning an Oscar and selling millions worldwide, Andy said audiences didn’t need to much encouragement to sing a long but he said ‘Time of Your Life’ lifts the atmosphere even further by adding in some modern anthems.

“The problem with ‘Dirty Dancing’ is that there are quite a lot of slow songs in it so we’ve mixed things up a bit by putting some more up to date songs like ‘Smooth’ and ‘On A Mission’.

“We’ve only been on the road with the show for a few months but these songs seem to slot in really well alongside the likes of ‘Do You Love Me’ and ‘Yes’.

“What really surprises me show after show is how many people know the Kellermans song. One of the girls, Lisa, plays Baby’s sister Lisa, and she sings it before the finale and even though it’s as cheesy as it gets, everyone joins in- a few of them even do the hand movements!”

The fact that the whole show is named after it, emphasises just how big a song ‘Time Of Your Life’ still is and both Andy and Karen said you can tell that’s the moment the audiences are waiting for.

And it’s not just the song itself that has crowds anticipating what’s to come, the song is just as famous for ‘the big lift’ that has more recently been attempted by couples as part of the first dance at their wedding.

“You can always tell that ‘Time of Your Life’ is the moment everyone is waiting for, you can feel the atmosphere building up to a crescendo,” Andy added.

“I have to say I like the end routine the best,” Karen admitted.

“It’s what the audience have come to see and I still get anxious about the lift every time.

“All I really have to do is run and jump but if Andy doesn’t catch me properly or isn’t standing right it can go wrong.

“Thankfully it goes right nine times out of 10 and there’s been no injuries so far- the only damage has been a few ripped pairs of tights!”

Andy is trained in latin and ballroom and Karen in ballet, classical and modern jazz and she said with this dance background it can be quite difficult to play Baby as she struggles to find her dancing feet.

“‘Dirty Dancing’ is my favourite film ever, I couldn’t even tell you how many times I watched it when was growing up,” she said.

“Jennifer Grey, who played Baby in the film is an amazing dancer, so it always impressed me that she could make herself look so rubbish at the start.

“Without wanting to sound big headed I’ve danced from a young age so it can be quite hard to pretend to be hopeless and keep getting steps wrong after training for so long to get routines spot on.

“Me and Andy have our own performing arts school too so it’s quite confusing if the kids come to see the show and see me not being able to dance!”

With so many energetic dance routines to perfect, you could blame Andy, Karen, Lisa, Billy and Bethan, for taking the easy way out favoured by many chart stars and mime but Karen said that was never an option for the show.

“I’ll admit that I’m more of a dancer than a singer,” she continued.

“But when people are paying good money to come and see you you’ve got to sing live.

“I think the audiences appreciate the effort that we put in and we even get them in on the act at one point, which is one of the best bits of the show for us. I’ll not spoil it for them though!

“We all love ‘Dirty Dancing’ so much and I hope the audience will enjoy the show.”