Cornering the producer of Dirty Dancing isn’t easy.
Karl Sydow, no relation to Max Von - of Seventh Seal and Flash Gordon fame - is fast on his feet. He has to be. You may find him directing political satire one day, the cream of theatrical luvvie talent the next, throwing in a film or four and then heading here for a run at the seaside’s biggest theatre.
Which is just how he likes it. No one puts Sydow in the corner. Sorry, had to say it. He’s expecting it, you’re expecting it, and countless fans of Dirty Dancing can almost bank on that line being used at some point in every article alluding to the film or the musical. Even the late Patrick Swayze admitted he cringed saying the line ‘it sounded so corny’.
It’s arguably the musical of the year for Blackpool (August 11-30) -a heady claim bearing in mind we’ve had Sound of Music through, Footloose is coming in September, Rocky Horror is in the wings and Ghost too. There’s something about Dirty Dancing - and many contend it’s Swayze - which makes palms perspire and hearts (and feet) pitter patter.
Unlike Ghost, the hero doesn’t die but makes a woman and dancer of 18 year old ‘innocent ‘Baby’. It helps, says director Karl, that the actor playing dance teacher Johnny was influenced by blue collar dancer and film star Swayze himself. “It’s a real Billy Elliott tale,” he admits.
It helps, too, that Sydow enjoys the light as well as shade of live theatre. He’s putting the musical through its paces in Ostend ahead of the resort run and while the dancers try to resist Belgium chocolates he gets a real lift out of the joy others feel for the film and, by association, the musical. It’s the one thing they can’t get enough of... sorry, doing it again.
Karl explains: “We’ve been in rehearsals for eight weeks now and are anxious to get in front of an audience.
“It’s a brand new production, the kinks are out, the technology works. Audiences arrive knowing every word, gesture, song, dance.
“We’ve had five major re-imaginings since 2004 and each time we do it better. This one is an absolute phenomenon. It’s a great version, very sexy and stylish.
“They spent £5m on the film, I’ve spent more than that on every single production.
“We have a wonderful cast and it’s a privilege to produce.”