Ballet star tries Dirty Dancing

Published September 26, 2008

Martin Harvey, who has been with the Royal Ballet since the age of 11, will lead the new cast of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage from 29 September. He is joined by stage and screen actress Leanne Rowe, who makes her West End debut in the production.

Former ballet star Harvey joins the Dirty Dancing cast as dance teacher from the wrong side of the tracks Johnny Castle, who leads Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (Rowe) astray during her family summer holiday at Kellerman’s holiday park.

For the Royal Ballet, Harvey has danced roles including Mercutio in Romeo And Juliet and Crown Prince Rudolf in Mayerling. Rowe’s acting credits include Roman Polanski’s 2005 Oliver Twist, in which she played Nancy opposite Ben Kingsley’s Fagin, and the BBC drama Lilies.

Commenting on his casting, Harvey said: “It has long been an ambition to play a lead in the West End, to be taking the role of such an iconic and inspirational character as Johnny Castle is a genuine thrill.” Rowe added: “I am absolutely delighted to be making my West End debut playing Baby in Dirty Dancing, one of my all time favourite films.”

The search for the cast that will take Dirty Dancing into its third year saw more than 1,000 performers attend open calls. Joining Harvey and Rowe are Steven Hartley and Carol Starks as the Houseman parents, and Jessica Brooks as Baby’s sister Lisa. Nadia Coote, who created the role of Penny for the London production, continues in the cast.

Dirty Dancing opened at London’s Aldwych theatre on 24 October 2006, and has now been seen by nearly one million people. Based on the hugely successful film, which has become a chick-flick classic, the stage show features all the memorable hits from the movie’s soundtrack, including Hungry Eyes, Do You Love Me, She’s Like The Wind and (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

MA