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Life / Entertainment / Theatre / Dirty Dancing
Guide to the London stage musical "Dirty Dancing"
  Main characters
  Background notes
  The film "Dirty Dancing"
  Further information


This page is a brief guide to the stage musical Dirty Dancing. The musical keeps many of the most famous lines and scenes from the 1987 film on which it is based, but also includes new material, songs and dances. It first opened in Sydney Australia in November 2004, before moving to Hamburg, Germany and then to London's West End in September 2006. The show is being staged at the Aldwych Theatre until Saturday 9 July 2011, after which it will go on a 2 year national tour.

The story is set in August 1963, when the Houseman family take a holiday in a resort called Kellerman's, in New York State's Catskill Mountains. This is a time of change in the United States, and also a time of transition for a 17 year-old girl who is about to experience her first love.

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Performances start times are as follows (the theatre opens about 45 minutes earlier):


The performance lasts about 2h40, with one 15 minute interval.

The Aldwych Theatre is at 49 Aldwych, London WC2B 4DF (nearest Tube stations: Charing Cross, Covent Garden or Temple; map)

To book a ticket to see Dirty Dancing click on one of these links:
Encore Tickets

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The main characters are:

The Houseman family:
'Baby' Houseman: the younger daughter is 17 years old and her real name is Frances
Lisa Houseman: Baby's older sister
Marjorie Houseman: Baby's mother
Dr. Jake Houseman: Baby's father, who works as a doctor and enjoys playing golf

Johnny Castle: the dancing teacher at the holiday camp
Penny Johnson: Johnny's dancing partner, who is pregnant after a brief love affair with Robbie

Billy Kostecki: Johnny's cousin, who also works at the holiday camp and is a singer (Baby helps him to carry watermelons)
Robbie Gould: womanising waiter and student of Yale Medical School, who has made Penny pregnant
Tito Suarez: leader of the holiday camp's band (a black man)
Stan: event organiser at the camp

Max Kellerman: the owner of the holiday camp (and of another hotel nearby called Sheldrake)
Neil Kellerman: Max's grandson, who is studying hotel management

Moe Pressman: Rich customer at the holiday camp who loses his wallet
Vivian Pressman: Moe's wife. Lisa finds her making love to Robbie

Mr & Mrs Schumacher: an elderly couple staying at the camp

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The story Dirty Dancing was written by the US author Eleanor Bergstein (born in 1938). There are many elements of the author's own life in the story. For example, her father was a doctor, she had an older sister and she was nicknamed Baby until she was 22. She went dancing while her parents were playing golf in the resorts in the Catskill Mountains. The hotel Kellerman's was based on a real place called Grossinger's Hotel, which closed in 1986.


Baby: "That was the summer of 1963 - when everybody called me Baby, and it didn't occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought I'd never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman's"

The story is set in August 1963. This was shortly before President John F Kennedy was shot dead (in November 1963), and before The Beatles came to the US (in February 1964). The Peace Corps is an American organisation of volunteers who work to help developing countries, established by President Kennedy's administration in 1961.


Stan: "Ping-Pong in the west arcade, softball in the east diamond. All you Sandy Koufaxes, get out there! Complimentary dance lessons in the gazebo"

Sandy Koufax was a top American baseball pitcher from New York who played at his peak between 1961 and 1966 (in 1965 he threw what is known in baseball as a "perfect game").


Lisa: "Oh, my God. Look at that! Ma, I should have brought those coral shoes. You said I was taking too much!" Marjorie: "Well, sweetheart, you brought ten pairs". Lisa: "But the coral shoes match that dress!" Jake: "This is not a tragedy. A tragedy is three men trapped in a mine, or police dogs used in Birmingham". Baby: "Monks burning themselves in protest". Lisa: "Butt out, Baby"

- In May 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama a civil rights demonstration by black youths was stopped by the police authorities, using water jets and then Alsatian dogs (see:
There are other references to the American civil rights movement during the story. Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech in Washington DC in August 1963 - the same time as this story is set. The musical includes part of the protest song "We shall overcome".
- In August 1963, three miners were trapped more than 300 feet underground when a mine in Sheppton, Pennsylvania collapsed. Two men were rescued after spending two weeks underground, but the third man was never found.
- In June 1963 a Buddhist monk set fire to himself on a busy street in Saigon in protest at the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, and a photograph of this was published across the world. Another monk killed himself the same way in Vietnam in August 1963, and other suicides followed.

Another historical event mentioned during the stage version is the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. This was when the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, causing a confrontation with the United States which could have led to a nuclear war.


Neil: Why not dance this year's final dance... to the pachanga?

Pachanga was a style of dance which originated in Cuba in the late 1950's and became popular for a while in the US in the early 60's.
Other styles of dance which are mentioned are the salsa, mambo, rumba, cha-cha, waltz, tango, the twist, hula dancing and merengue.


He didn't use no ether, nothing. - I thought you said he was a real M.D.? - He had a dirty knife and a table.

Abortions were still illegal in the US in 1963. This led to many "back-street" abortions, often performed by unqualified doctors in unhygienic conditions.
Ether was an early type of anaesthetic. An M.D. is a qualified medical doctor.


Robbie: "I didn't blow a summer hauling toasted bagels just to bail out some little chick who probably balled every guy in the place" (Baby is pouring water into glasses for him). "A little precision please, Baby. Some people count and some people don't" (he brings out a copy of The Fountainhead from his pocket). "Read it. I think it's a book you'll enjoy, but make sure you return it; I have notes in the margin"

The Fountainhead is a novel by the American authress Ayn Rand, published in 1943. The main character in the book is a selfish, individualistic man who blows up a big apartment building without a thought for anyone who might be injured. Robbie uses the book to attempt to justify why he won't take responsibility for Penny's pregnancy.


Jake [to Marge, while playing golf]: "You're lining it up a little wrong, Marge". Jake [to Baby]: "If your mother ever leaves me, it'll be for Arnold Palmer"

Arnold Palmer is an American golfer who is regarded as one of one of the greatest players in the history of men's professional golf. He won seven major championships between 1958 and 1964 (winning the US Masters four times).


There's a merengue class in the gazebo in the next few minutes. The greatest teacher. Used to be a Rockette.

The Rockettes are a famous female-only dance company based in New York.


Johnny: "You don't understand the way it is, I mean for somebody like me. Last month, I'm eating Jujubes to keep alive, this month women are stuffing diamonds in my pockets"

Jujubes are a brand of sweet in the United States


Lisa: "God, I'm so sick of this rain. Remind me not to take my honeymoon at Niagara Falls". Marjorie: "So, you go to Acapulco"

Niagara Falls are spectacular waterfalls on the border between Canada and the United States. Acapulco is a sunny seaside resort on the west coast of Mexico.


Johnny: "What's your real name, Baby?" Baby: "Frances. For the first woman in the Cabinet."

Baby says that she was named after "the first woman in the Cabinet". This is a reference to a lady called Frances C. Perkins who became U.S. Secretary of Labor in 1933. Frances is also the name of the sister of the story's author (Eleanor Bergstein).

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Some of the most famous songs from Dirty Dancing are these (click on these links to hear the songs and to watch excerpts from the film version):
Hungry Eyes (sung by Eric Carmen):
She's Like The Wind (sung by Patrick Swayze, featuring Wendy Fraser):
(I've Had) The Time Of My Life (sung by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes):

Below is a list of songs in the musical, and those which are on the show's CD (which contains a mixture of songs from original artists and songs performed by the original London cast).

Act 1
This Magic Moment.
Little Darlin'
(I've Had) The Time Of My Life
You Do Something To Me
You're The Cream In My Coffee
There Will Never Be Another You
Trot The Fox
Johnny's Mambo
Do You Love Me?
Love Man
Infectious Cha Cha Cha
Original Waltz
Penny's Waltz
Viva La Quinte Brigada
This Land Is Your Land
We Shall Overcome
Stubborn Kind Of Fellow
De Todo Un Poco
Wipe Out
Hungry Eyes
Hey! Baby
(I've Had) The Time Of My Life
An Original Tango
De Todo Un Poco
Melodie au Crepuscule
These Arms Of Mine
Cry To Me
Act 2
Dawn Interlude
A Fool In Love
Besame Mucho
Melodie au Crepuscule
Blow The Man Down
Mama Said
Save The Last Dance For Me
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
Mama Said
Magic Hour Serenade
Duke Of Earl
Love Is Strange
You Don't Own Me
Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me
Lisa's Hula
Oh! Better Far To Live And Die
In The Still Of The Night (I'll Remember)
Summertime Incidental
Someone Like You
She's Like The Wind (Instrumental)
Kellerman's Anthem
(I've Had) The Time Of My Life
Cast Album (CD)
1. This Magic Moment - Company
2. Medley: That Was The Summer Of 1963 (Baby dialogue) Little Darlin´ - The Diamonds
3. Merengue - Company
4. There Will Never Be Another You - Company
5. Johnny`s Mambo - Company
6. Do You Love Me - Company
7. Love Man - Otis Redding
8. This Land is Your Land/We Shall Overcome - Company
9. Medley: She Can´t Do it (Johnny dialogue) Stubborn Kind Of Fellow - Marvin Gaye
10. Medley: It´s A Feeling, A Heartbeat (Johnny dialogue) Hungry Eyes - Eric Carmen
11. Hey! Baby - Bruce Channel
12. Cry To Me - Solomon Burke
13. Maybe - The Chantels
14. Dawn Interlude - Company
15. Besame Mucho - Company
16. Medley:You´re a Good Teacher (Johnny/Baby dialogue) Save The Last Dance - The Drifters
17. If You Were the Only Girl In The World - Company
18. Duke of Earl - Gene Chandler
19. Love Is Strange - Mickey and Sylvia
20. Medley:Well, Summer´s Over..(v/o dialogue) Hula Song - Company
21. Yes - Company
22. In The Still Of The Night - Company
23. Someone Like You - Company
24. Kellerman`s Anthem - Company
25. Medley: Jake dialogue (I`ve Had) The Time Of My Life - Company

Dirty Dancing - London Cast Recording (CD)
Artists: London Cast & various
Label: SonyBMG
Date: November 2006

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The accents are clear. There are American/1960's references (the background notes above will help you to understand these). If you have seen the film you will already be familiar with the story.
Age: This show is suitable for adults or older children. There is occasional swearing and there are some sexual references.
Music: There is lots of music and dancing during the performance, mainly in pop or Latin styles. There are some flashing lights.

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The film version of Dirty Dancing was released in 1987, starring Jennifer Grey as "Baby" and Patrick Swayze as Johnny.

Patrick Swayze later starred together with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg in the film Ghost. His mother was a choreographer who owned a dance school. He died from cancer in September 2009, aged 57.

A film sequel was made in 2004 called Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, set in Cuba (but filmed in Puerto Rico). Patrick Swayze played a small role in this film, as a dance class instructor.

Lions Gate is developing a remake of Dirty Dancing from a new script by Julia Dahl - this is expected to be released in 2011.

Dirty Dancing [1987] (DVD; 20th anniversary special edition)
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Date: October 2007
Ghost [1990] (DVD)
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Date: Dec 2001
Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights [2004] (DVD)
Starring: Diego Luna, Romola Garai
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Date: November 2004

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Official website for the musical:

Wikipedia article about the film:
Script for the Dirty Dancing film:

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British theatre: Life/Entertainment/Theatre
West End Live: Ideas/Album/West-End-Live
Dancing in the UK: Life/Entertainment/Dance

If you like Dirty Dancing you may also be interested in these musicals:
Jersey Boys: Life/Entertainment/Theatre/Jersey-Boys
You might also enjoy Hairspray, Billy Elliot or Grease

Home page: Home

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