The cast and creative team of Dirty Dancing were on hand to cut a special cake as the London production celebrated its first birthday last night at the Aldwych Theatre. The hit musical is currently booking until 18 October 2008 after extensions earlier in the year to meet public demand for tickets (See News, 19 Apr 2007).

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.

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Dirty Dancing is 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.


Dirty Dancing isn't the only show in the West End with something to celebrate. Last week Spamalot, at the Palace Theatre, also marked its first birthday with a giant cake on stage, cut with Excalibur, the legendary sword belonging to King Arthur (Peter Davison)! The production is currently booking until 1 March 2008, with a planned transatlantic Lady of the Lake cast swap in January (See News, 9 Oct 2007).

Spamalot is “lovingly ripped off” from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and tells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in their quest to find the religious relic – along the way featuring a chorus line of dancing divas (with serfs), flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and a legless knight.

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Spamalot has a book and lyrics by original Python Eric Idle, who has also co-written the music with John Du Prez. The London production, which reunited the Broadway creative team including director Mike Nichols and set and costume designer Tim Hatley, celebrates its first London anniversary on 17 October 2007 and is currently booking until 1 March 2008.

- by Tom Atkins