As Dirty Dancing readies for the start of its previews this Friday (29 September 2006, ahead of a 24 October opening night), the screen-to-stage adaptation continues to break box office records at the Aldwych Theatre, where sales have now reached more than 240,000 tickets and an “unprecedented” £11 million, further cementing its position as the fastest-selling production in West End history to date (See News, 29 Aug 2006).

Over the summer, months ahead of its UK premiere, Dirty Dancing’s schedule was extended by more than six months, through to October 2007, after the first booking period sold out (See News, 8 Jun 2006). To meet with continuing demand, 25 extra seats have now been installed at the Aldwych. The first 1,000 seats of this additional inventory, covering the preview period, will go on sale at noon this Friday and are available to buy, in person only, from the Aldwych box office, which will remain open until midnight.

On the day, producers will also raffle off five pairs of free tickets to that evening’s long sold-out performance. Theatregoers are advised to queue early for the chance to buy and win tickets. The 25 seats for performances beyond previews will go on sale at the box office in the coming weeks.

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.

The London production stars Josef Brown (who originated the stage role of Johnny in Australia) and Georgina Rich as Johnny and Baby. They’re joined by David Rintoul as Baby’s father Dr Jake Houseman, Issy Van Randwyck as Baby’s mother Marjorie, Isabella Calthorpe as Baby’s sister Lisa and Nadia Coote (from the Australian production) as Penny.

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 West End production is directed by James Powell and designed by Stephen Brimson-Lewis, with musical supervision by Conrad Helfrich, choreography by Kate Champion, lighting by Tim Mitchell, sound by Bobby Aitken and costumes by Jennifer Irwin.

- by Terri Paddock