IT was the role that made Patrick Swayze a worldwide heart-throb.
So it’s no wonder 26-year-old Gareth Bailey felt the pressure when he landed the leading role as Johnny in Dirty Dancing on stage.
But Gareth underwent a drastic diet and exercise regime which included eating 15 egg whites as well as working out for hours every week to be like the movie star.
In just 12 weeks the 6ft 3in musical star lost nearly 10kg of fat shrinking from 92kg to 83.2kg before adding 5kg of muscle.
The transformation is so dramatic he is in the best shape of his life complete with sculpted six pack.
“There is a lot of expectation when you are Johnny Castle.
Physically, Patrick Swayze had a fantastic body and that’s so important to portray the very masculine character of Johnny, and of course you feel that pressure,” he said.
Gareth's 12 week body transformation
Gareth, who will show off his physique when Dirty Dancing comes to Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre tonight until Saturday, June 28, said he started the regime shortly after being offered the leading role in Cape Town as part of the show’s international tour.
He explains: “I thought it was time to step it up and take things up a gear not only to achieve the body, but also, the show is physically very demanding and I wanted to improve my strength and endurance so I could give a performance to the max of my ability.
“Unlike the film, once you start, there is no stopping so you have to be fitter than expected.”
Normally tempted by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a pizza, Gareth completely cut all carbohydrates from his diet.
For weeks the former British Junior Gymnast, who used to play rugby for Bromley RFC, ate nothing more than about 300g of protein a day with broccoli, asparagus, cucumber or spinach.
A typical day for the dancer, who graduated from Italia Conti Academy in 2007, was eating 15 egg whites, four chicken breasts, two tins of tuna, one steak and two protein shakes.
Meanwhile he worked out up to 12 times a week – typically a morning cardio workout, a day of dance rehearsals followed by a further evening session at the gym. And sometimes he’d double up workouts.
But it wasn’t easy.
“I’d get home and have to prepare a lot of food. At one point I had nine lunchboxes on the go with 12 chicken breasts in the oven,” he laughs.
“I think it did send me a little bit mad, you know that feeling you get when you go upstairs and forget what you have gone for?
“I was on my way home from the gym one night and I just burst into tears and I had no idea why, just pure exhaustion!”
But the sacrifice to get the A list celebrity’s ripped physique paid off. The results of the photo shoots are impressive.
“I thought ‘wow is this me’? It does give you a lot of confidence getting compliments, you feel proud.
“Some people say you are lucky, but to develop a physique which is defined and refined aesthetically it takes a lot of commitment and a lot of time.”
Now Gareth is looking forward to the show’s run in Southampton.
He will be training in Pure Gym and will hope to get to the New Forest to exercise outside.
“I may well even find a log, yes, and practise some of the dance moves,” he laughs.
Follow Gareth @bailey-photo on Twitter