Two of 2006’s new West End musical productions – the recently transferred revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and the screen-to-stage adaptation of Dirty Dancing, which doesn’t even open until October – have announced extensions to their booking periods.

At the Aldwych Theatre, where Dirty Dancing receives it UK premiere on 24 October 2006 (previews from 28 September) and has already broken advance box office sales records (See The Goss, 12 Apr 2006), an extra six-and-a-half months have now been added, taking it up to 20 October 2007.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to groups on 12 June 2006 and to individuals on 10 July, although, in an apparent attempt to control demand for prime performances, tickets for Friday evenings and Saturdays are being held back longer, on sale to groups on 4 September and to individuals on 11 September 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. (Swayze will make his own West End debut next month, playing Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls - See News, 5 Jun 2006).

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 will star Josef Brown (who originated the stage role of Johnny in Australia) and Georgina Rich (See News, 23 May 2006). James Powell will direct, 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.


Meanwhile, at Wyndham’s Theatre, the transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory’s award-winning revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George has added six weeks to its limited West End season. The production, starring Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, opened at Wyndham’s on 23 May 2006 (previews from 13 May) and had been booking until 22 July. It will now continue until 2 September 2006.

Exploring the creative process of French impressionist George Seurat (Evans), the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1984 musical begins in 19th-century France, where the impoverished painter battles with his art and his personal life. His engrossment in his work drives his pregnant girlfriend Dot (Russell) to leave him. The action then shifts to modern America where George’s great-grandson is facing similar problems.

Sunday in the Park with George has music by and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine. The set design of Sam Buntrock’s new production features ground-breaking, computer-generated animations by David Farley and Timothy Bird, who jointly won this year’s Critics’ Circle Award for Best Designer for their efforts (See News, 31 Jan 2006). The revival also won Best Off-West End Production in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (See News, 31 Jan 2006).

Prior to the West End, Buntrock’s staging - the first major London production since the National staged the musical’s UK premiere in 1990 – first opened on 29 November 2005 (previews from 18 November), at the Menier in Southwark, south London, where it enjoyed an extended, sell-out season until 12 March 2006.

- by Terri Paddock