As Dirty Dancing celebrates its 30th anniversary, we caught up with dancer and actress Jennifer Jones who plays Penny Johnson in the live production to see how she feels about playing such an iconic role, and where to find her in the City of Brotherly Love.
Jennifer Jones in Dirty Dancing.
Jennifer Jones is no stranger to Philadelphia. The talented dancer started her career in the City of Brotherly Love as a graduate of the University of the Arts. After an extended time with Philadanco and the 76ers Dream Team, Jones appeared on the 10th season of So You Think You Can Dance. In 2014, she packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career on stage. Today, she can be found in film, on commercials, and the live performance of Dirty Dancing at the Merriam Theatre from May 16-21.
Philadelphia Style caught up with the dancer to chat about her favorite memories in the City of Brotherly Love, and why she loves to dance.
What does it mean to you to play such an iconic role? JENNIFER JONES: It's huge for me. This is my first acting role. I've always just been a dancer so it's been a lot of fun exploring the character of Penny Johnson. She's a spicy, sexy tough gal.
You've performed on television and live multiple times in your career. What is your favorite mode of entertaining people? JJ: I love live theatre. You have to go out there and leave everything on the stage. I always hope that I can tell a story.
How will the story differ from screen to stage? JJ: It's everything you loved in the movie and so much more! Our singers and dancers light up the stage.
What are your fondest memories of Philadelphia? JJ: I have so many! So many performances with incredible people that I honestly couldn't pinpoint just one. From working with Roni Koresh, Tommie Waheed-Evans, and all of my amazing professors in college, to performing with Philadanco and Gunnar Montana after graduating, they're all such memorable experiences. I think coming back and performing at the Kimmel again will be one for the books.
What are you most looking forward to about being back in Philly? JJ: Seeing my Philly family and performing at the Kimmel again. I can't wait to show all my friends in the cast how I used to do Philly.
Where do you like to hangout when you're here? Any favorite spots to grab food or a drink? JJ: There are so many places and all of them have the best food! I'll be getting some cold sesame noodles at Han Dynasty, grabbing a cheesesteak at Pat's and Geno's, stopping by Brü to see my friends. [I'll] definitely make a run to Reading Terminal, and if the pool is open, I'll probably spend a day or two at North Shore in Northern Liberties. The list could go on forever. I can't wait to be back in Philly!