I’m having the time of my life
FORGET about putting baby in the corner. Katie Eccles will be centre stage when she brings Dirty Dancing to Llandudno next week.
Love will quite literally be in the air as the 26-year-old and co-star Lewis Griffiths – who play Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and Johnny Castle - recreate all the famous scenes from the film on stage, including of course the climactic lift.
And although Eccles may show no fear as she runs into Griffiths’ arms to perform the move – which takes place in a freezing lake in the film – she revealed she sometimes doubts whether it will go to plan.
“Lewis is so incredible, he’s super strong and I know he would never drop me but sometimes I may look at him at the end of a long week with a crazy eye and wonder whether the lift is actually going to happen,” she said.
“I still get really excited when we have done it. “I have absolute trust in him, I know he’s got my back and we’re not going to hit the floor.”
But if you’re all wondering how it’s done, the actress revealed her trick to mastering the move.
“The secret to lift is to learn it on the floor first. Then the trick is to forward your hips onto their hands,” she said. “At first I didn’t enjoy doing it at all because I kept thinking I was going to hit my face on the floor. It’s all about team work.”
Like the film, the stage show tells the story of Baby and Johnny, which begins in the summer of 1963.
The 17-year-old is forced to go on holiday with her parents to New York’s Catskill Mountains where she falls for the bad boy dance instructor.
Comparing the role of Baby to her own personal experiences, Eccles added: “From arguing with her sister to disagreements with her dad and falling in love with a guy she isn’t meant to fall in love with – these are things that happen to us all.
“She’s such a relatable character. Everyone has fallen for someone they’re not meant to, it’s part of growing up, and you don’t always see eye to eye with your parents. She’s a very natural character to play, it’s very real life.
“I start the journey so naive and reserved and I finish the show knowing what’s right and what’s wrong – it’s a huge journey for a two hour show.
“I’m never going to be Jennifer Grey, the film is so iconic because of her and Patrick Swayze, they’re mesmerising together and that’s whats so amazing about the film. I’m never going to fill their shoes but I do hope I do it justice.”
Originally an understudy for the show, she took over the character in May as her first major theatre role.
She added: “This is my first big job really which is amazing – I couldn’t have asked for a more fun role to play. It was an amazing moment when they asked me to be Baby, it was all a bit of a whirlwind really, to know they’d trust me in such a role is amazing. It was the best feeling.
“The film came out before I was actually born, but I’ve always loved it. It’s such a feelgood film.”
Lewis Griffiths as Johnny and Katie Eccles as Baby and, inset, rehearsing the famous lift