Kurt Phelan says finishing Dirty Dancing tour like ‘going through break up’


Kurt Phelan.
Kurt Phelan.

KURT Phelan describes the feeling of finishing the Australian tour of Dirty Dancing last year, where he starred as Johnny Castle, as like going through a break up.

“Especially with Kirby (Burgess) and Maddie (Peat) who played Baby and Penny,” Phelan said.

“We spent so much time together, danced so closely and became such good friends, and then after a matinee one Sunday, all the clothes and set were packed up and everyone went their separate ways.

“I also soon realised, after a friend pointed it out, that I missed everyone cheering for me every night.”

It was during the last six months on the production that Phelan started working on his next gig, writing cabaret show Phelan Groovy.

Phelan said the show started off autobiographical before moving into musings and other things that interested him.

“I learnt when I was 18 or 19 that I should say only about 10 per cent of the outrageous things I think,” he said.

“So this show is that other 90 per cent, but with songs.

“I’ve been working in the industry for years and Dirty Dancing was my first big shot; it doesn’t matter what you do as an artist, you’re kind of measured by the last thing you’ve done.

“People got to know me as Johnny but I’m very different to the type of person I had to be every night while on stage.

“This show is an excellent chance for me to take off the mask and show the audience there’s a bit of a strange, funny, awkward human behind the facade.”

Seated in cabaret style at Downstairs at the Maj, audiences can expect 13 reworded songs from the likes of Lorde, Tina Turner and John Farnham, with a few musical theatre treats too.

“I talk about how I was born on the laundry steps while we lived on a mango farm,” Phelan said.

“There’s a lot of stuff to make fun of and coming from Irish heritage, that’s what we’re really good at.

“The tagline for this show is never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

When asked about the show’s title, Phelan said it was all about taking back his name.

“Growing up with the last name Phelan, you get teased a lot in different ways – ‘How are you Phelan?’, ‘You Phelan good?’,” he said.

“Every Phelan in our family gets a different nickname by their friends and mine was ‘Phelan It’.

“It wasn’t easy to be a boy in north Queensland who wanted to grow up to dance and sing; now I’m reclaiming my last name.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Phelan Groovy

Where: Downstairs at the Maj, His Majesty’s Theatre

When: June 2 to 4

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au