It’s been almost exactly 30 years since Dirty Dancing premiered. The now classic film set itself apart from standard romantic dramas by powering its cross-economic love story with snappy choreography, starring Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman, a sheltered rich girl who falls for her working-class dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). Though a low-budget effort, it fast rocketed into a box office hit, and remains a time-tested favorite three decades later.
Back in 2009, reports of a reboot had begun to make the rounds, but it was later postponed and eventually canceled. Then, in 2015, ABC officially greenlit a remake in the form of a three-hour musical special, which is slated to premiere on the channel May 24. This time around, Oscar-nominated actress Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens, Little Miss Sunshine) stars as “Baby,” while newcomer Colt Prattes plays her leading man. The cast also includes Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland, Will & Grace‘s Debra Messing, and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.
EW has released first look images for the TV movie. The photos make the project look pretty spot-on to the original, including the iconic scene in which Johnny hoists Baby over his head. Check out the highlights in the gallery below.
In the past, it’s proved difficult to recapture Dirty Dancing‘s initial magnetism. The 2004 sequel-slash-reimagining transferred the story from upstate New York to Cuba in 1958, but was criticized for regurgitating the same basic plot without adding a fresh spin. A short-lived 1988 TV series, starring Patrick Cassidy and Melora Hardin, also failed to land with audiences, while the stage version fared well financially but drew in mixed reviews.
ABC, for its part, has promised changes that suggest this iteration won’t be a simple copy and paste job. According to their website, the reboot will shed more light on the supporting cast, exploring the relationship between Jake (Bruce Greenwood) and Marjorie Houseman (Messing), a new love interest for Baby’s older sister, Lisa (Hyland), and a “fully realized” Neil (Trevor Einhorn). The movie will also “dive deeper” into the characters, “showcasing their progression and tackling social themes like race, women’s rights, and the socio-economic division in the country at that time.”
Those are high marks to hit, but as long as the network doesn’t tread too close to the original, it may be able to pull off a crisp, successful reimagining. Or, at the very least, an enjoyable, nostalgic watch.
Dirty Dancing premieres May 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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