Popspoken got the chance to speak with the leads of the classic story, Dirty Dancing. Luigi Vigliottio and Bryony Whitfield, who take on the iconic roles of Johnny and Baby respectively, answer 5 questions we had for them!
How did you prepare for the iconic roles of Johnny and Baby respectively?
Luigi Vigliottio (LV): To be honest, it is kind of a very strenuous process, because the role has a very high expectation to it. So, the best thing I try to do is try to make Johnny my own. So, try and be Johnny Castle instead of Patrick Swayze.
Bryony Whitfield (BW): We had a wonderful rehearsal process, where we were able to explore the characters ourselves because internationally, the show is well known. I wanted to understand her journey, so when we started rehearsing after I got offered the role of Baby; I did want to explore her myself. I didn’t want to copy Jennifer Grey, I didn’t want to copy Baby, and also, from film to stage is a very different performance. So I found that for me my preparation was to understand the character and be sensitive to her and get to know her and how she would think about things and I love her journey. And I can relate to Baby very well too!
What was the biggest challenge you faced while preparing for the show?
LV: Again, it is meeting the expectation, not just in terms of on an acting level, and getting the character where he needs to be, but on the dancing level as well. It is a very physical role and trying to get the juxtaposition between the dancing.
BW: One challenge was getting the American accent right! I’ve never done an American accent before and it took a lot of practice, cause you want the words to sit comfortably in your mouth and you want to be as natural as possible. My other challenge was that I am a trained dancer; since I was 6, and with Baby, she’s a non-dancer it challenges my acting ability. I want the audience to believe that I’m a non-dancer, so, that was the challenge of getting to know my body as a non-dancer and that journey that happens through the show. By the end, I get to dance as Bryony would dance!
What was the most demanding thing that the role demands of you?
LV: The physicality of the role is definitely the most demanding thing. And you will see, especially in the first part of the show, there is a very, very intense. After that, it is about meandering through the story with Johnny and trying to take you on a story.
BW: It would have to be doing the show 8 times a week. It is very taxing on the body, by the time the Sunday show comes, and on your last show your body is really tired. But I’ve been this for 4 years (I did Cats, Phantom of the Opera, African Footprint) so I’m used to it. So I’ve learnt how to take real good care of my body and myself. But I love being on stage!
Do you have a favorite part of the musical?
LV: Time Of My Life has to be the winner! I’m not going to lie and the mambo with Penny are the two favorite part of the show.
BW: Time Of My Life is definitely one of my favorite parts just because there is such an energy on and off the stage. Everyone knows that it’s coming and they know the lift’s coming; so there’s this anticipation and you can feel it and because there is a live band in it. It just creates a energy like its intoxicating, you just take it all in!
If you could collaborate with anyone on the planet, who would it be and why?
LV: That is a really hard question! I’ve got to think about it carefully. I’ve got to say Batman (Christian Bale), if there is anyone I would collaborate with it would be him! I just love the way he is, he’s an amazing actor. It would be amazing to collaborate with an actor who’s on a whole different level of amazing.
BW: One of the things I really wish is that I can see Michael Jackson perform live. The way that he worked, in terms of how he works and workshops his dancing, and how he is constantly evolving as an artiste and how he changed. I mean, he’s the King of Pop! No matter what his personal life was, he was an artiste for me, and a true performer. I am inspired by his music. I am also very inspired by Alicia Keys. I love soul music! Also, Sutton Foster, whom I’ve been watching a lot, who’s a also Broadway star. She’s an amazing singer and performer.
In the meanwhile, check out a couple of previews from the Musical!