Musicals Extend: Dirty Dancing, Billy Elliot, StompDate: 14 November 2006
The £12 million advance ticket sales of the screen-to-stage adaptation of Dirty Dancing, which received its UK premiere on 24 October 2006 (previews from 28 September) have meant that, due to demand, the show has added another five months to its schedule and is now booking through to 22 March 2008 at the Aldwych Theatre (See News, 23 Oct 2006). Tickets for the new dates go on sale tomorrow (15 November 2006).
Set at an upmarket American holiday camp called Kellerman’s in the 1960s, the 1987 film of Dirty Dancing starred Jennifer Grey as the teenaged Baby Houseman who falls in love with the camp's working class dance instructor Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, whose climactic line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”, has since become a classic.
Dirty Dancing has been adapted for the stage by the film’s screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, who based the story’s setting on her own childhood experiences of family holidays in America’s Catskill Mountains. The musical had its world premiere in Sydney in 2004 and has since proved a hit on tour in Australia and Germany.
The London production stars Josef Brown (who originated the stage role of Johnny in Australia) and Georgina Rich (See News, 23 May 2006). It’s directed by James Powell, with musical supervision by Conrad Helfrich, choreography by Kate Champion, set design by Stephen Brimson-Lewis, lighting by Tim Mitchell, sound by Bobby Aitken and costumes by Jennifer Irwin.
At the Victoria Palace, Billy Elliot has added seven months to its current booking period, taking it up to 20 October 2007 (it was previously booking to 31 March 2007). Set against the North-eastern mining strikes of the 1980s, the musical recounts the tale of a motherless boy whose father wants him to learn to box but who instead discovers a love for ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School.
The current cast includes Sally Dexter (Mrs Wilkinson), Phil Whitchurch (Dad), Ann Emery (Grandma), Chris Lennon (Tony), Alex Delamere (Mr Braithwaite), Paul Broughton (George) and Sara Poyzer (Mum). Since its opening, Billy Elliot has grossed over £30 million and been seen by more than 650,000 people. Amongst the show’s many accolades are the sweep of the UK’s Best Musical/New Musical trophies at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circles, Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Awards.
The stage production reunites the creative team behind the film: director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling. It features an original score by pop singer-songwriter Elton John, with lyrics by Hall. It's designed by Ian MacNeil, with costumes by Nicky Gillibrand and musical supervision by Martin Koch.
Meanwhile, at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, Stomp is now taking bookings up to 27 May 2007 (it was previously booking to 11 February 2007.) The award-winning show, which originated in Brighton in 1991 and has previously played at the Roundhouse and Sadler’s Wells, has toured all over the world. It started its first West End run at the Vaudeville Theatre in September 2002 and has now been seen by more than ten million people.
Stomp transforms the junk and clutter of urban life into a source of rhythm and dance. In 100 minutes, a cast of eight performers use boots, bins, garbage, zippo lighters, plumbers' plungers and everything including the kitchen sink to hammer out a symphony.
- by Caroline Ansdell