An invited audience at West End nightclub Café de Paris last night got a taster of the new adaptation of seminal Eighties teen movie Dirty Dancing, subtitled “The Classic Story on Stage” (See News, 24 Feb 2006), which receives its UK premiere on 24 October 2006 (previews from 29 September) at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre, where it’s initially booking until 7 April 2007.

Set at an upmarket American holiday camp called Kellerman’s in the 1960s, the 1987 film 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”, was last year voted the second most recognised line in film history.

The stage musical had its world premiere in November 2004 in Sydney and continues to tour Australia and New Zealand. The first European production opens next month in Germany, where it’s already broken advance box office records.

Hosted by British TV presenter Tess Daly, last night’s London launch event featured interviews with Eleanor Bergstein, the film’s original scriptwriter who adapted it for the stage, and producer Kevin Jacobsen, as well as footage from the Australian production and three live performances. Flying in specially from Sydney, Deone Zanotto performed “This Magic Moment”, Josef Brown and Nadia Coote danced “Johnny’s Mambo” and, as a finale, Zanotto and Ben Mingay sang Dirty Dancing’s most famous song, the Oscar-winning “Time of My Life”.

Bergstein explained that she decided to adapt Dirty Dancing for the stage after watching the film’s “open-hearted fans” and realising that “what they really wanted was to be present while it was happening”, something that was only possible through the medium of “live theatre”. Bergstein has rewritten the story to include more songs, dancing and scenes between Johnny and Baby. She promised: “It’s everything that’s in the movie but there’s more.”

The music in the show is a combination of recordings and live performances. Songs featured include such period classics as “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Do You Love Me?”, “Love Man”, “Teenager in Love”, “Wipe Out”, “Hey! Baby”, “Stay”, “Save the Last Dance”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Duke of Earl” and “In the Still of the Night” as well as those written for the film including “Hungry Eyes”, “She’s Like the Wind” and “Time of My Life”.

No casting has yet been announced for the 35-strong company. Open auditions begin in April to find UK performers for the London production. Dirty Dancing is presented in London by Jacobsen Entertainment and Karl Sydow in association with Lion’s Gate Films and Magic Hour Productions.

- by Terri Paddock


Whatsonstage.com TV dropped into last night’s Dirty Dancing launch event to find out what the guests thought and to catch up afterwards with the show’s creator, producers and imported Australian guest stars. To find out more about the launch and the show itself, just click on the "play" arrow button to the left of the TV screen below.


PLUS…PHOTOS FROM LAST NIGHT’S LAUNCH:

Tess Daly with Australian stars Josef Brown & Nadia Coote
Dirty Dancing’s creator & writer Eleanor Bergstein
Josef Brown & Nadia Coote perform “Johnny’s Mambo”