When most of us think Dirty Dancing, we think Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey and inevitably get “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” stuck in our heads. ABC and Lionsgate Television are looking to change all that with an upcoming reimagining of the movie classic that will air as a three-hour musical event. The only bit of casting news originally released was that Abigail Breslin would be playing Baby. Fortunately for those of us tapping our toes in anticipation of the new adaptation, we now know who will be playing the role of Marjorie Houseman: Debra Messing.
Don’t worry. We were surprised, too.
To be fair, Kelly Bishop was so unforgettable as Marjorie Houseman in the original Dirty Dancing in 1987 that it’s been almost impossible to imagine anybody else in the role. Honestly, if ABC and Lionsgate had announced that they were looking into time machines to somehow cast Bishop again, it would have seemed reasonable.
Taking time travel out of the equation, however, Debra Messing is actually a pretty killer pick to play Marjorie. She’s been a figure on television for years now, and her role on the sadly short-lived Smash proved that Messing knows her way around a musical. Marjorie Houseman may be a new sort of role for her, but there’s no reason to think that she won’t be fabulous.
Marjorie Houseman wouldn’t be an easy role for any actress to tackle, and not just because the character was so well-played by a different actress already. The mother of protagonist Baby and sister Lisa, Marjorie is a meticulous 1960s housewife who takes great pride in her nuclear family. She intends to use the Houseman summer vacation at a Catskills Mountains resort to rekindle her romance with her workaholic husband. It’s a role that requires nuance to be sympathetic and relatable, but the Emmy Award-winning Messing should be able to nail it. If anybody’s going to have the presence to put Abigail Breslin’s Baby in a corner, it may just be Messing.
Of course, Marjorie won’t be the only character looking to put Baby in a corner, but Dr. Houseman has yet to be cast. In fact, even male lead Johnny has not yet been cast, and it’s safe to say that an awful lot of us are anxious to see who will be called upon to replace Patrick Swayze.
The ABC television event isn’t the first time that there’s been talk of re-casting the originals for a remake of Dirty Dancing, but plans for a theatrical remake ultimately fell through, which may well be for the best. The ABC adaptation already has one movie to invite comparisons to.
There’s no word just yet of when we can expect to see Debra Messing take on Marjorie Houseman for the Dirty Dancing remake, but we can still tune into NBC on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET to see her as Laura on The Mysteries of Laura.