As part of the programme for the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre's 120th anniversary next year, the worldwide stage phenomenon Dirty Dancing will be playing for three weeks through September and October 2014.
The launch event, held at local Coppice Performing Arts School saw cast and creatives come together for a masterclass on the style of choreography used in the show. Around 40 dance students, group bookers and members of the media were put through their paces by dancers Jacqui Biggs, James Bennett and associate choreographer, Glenn Wilkinson.
Jacqui Biggs and James Bennett
After a sweaty start and a mouthful of Watermelon cupcakes I sat down with producer Karl Sydow to talk about the show's success so far.
How did you come to be involved in a stage production of Dirty Dancing?
A friend who was an old rock and roll promoter got in touch with me one day and said "listen, I think I can get the rights to Dirty Dancing but I don't have the time to actually produce it." I have a daughter and I knew she was going to tell me that I should do it, she watches the film all the time. I asked her what she thought, I only knew of Dirty Dancing because of her and I didn't know if it would work. There's a pretty wide range of people we had to impress with it and I knew it was very important to get it right for it's existing and loyal fan-base.
Dirty Dancing is quite unlike anything else, it's not a musical, they don't just burst into song... but it's far from a play. How would you describe it?
Yes, you're absolutely right about that... it's a play with music. It is the film on stage, which a lot of people would think is a lot easier than creating a musical from it. The film has 118 separate scenes - plays and musicals don't have that. We had the challenge of getting all that on stage - people had to see the log that they balance on, they had to see the field where they do the lift and you have to have the lake ... I mean how do you put a lake on stage that someone convincingly accepts!?
Producer, Karl Sydow
Were there any other challenges?
Well yes... it's a film that is hugely important to women and the stage show has continued to be. It is men that control the entertainment industry so I've never found it easy to get a theatre to take us on. I got turned down by virtually everyone in the West End. Nobody wanted Dirty Dancing in the theatre and they just didn't believe it would be successful. I had somebody actually say to me "nobody will buy a ticket for this Karl, you're going to have the biggest disaster of your producing life. People can just go out and buy the DVD of the film from a bargain bin, it'll cost me £8..."
But what we have is special. If you're a fan of the movie and have watched it so many times this is your chance to see it live! I think when you've watched it over and over you get to the point where you want to join in and be there with Johnny and Baby and this is the closest you'll get to that. It's an essential human, visceral experience - you want to be there! This is 3D, it's real... better than the movie in that sense, you're actually in the room with Baby and Johnny and you're not going to get that anywhere else. I can't wait to bring the show to Wolverhampton.
Dirty Dancing plays at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Tuesday 23 September - Saturday 11 October 2014. Tickets can be booked online here or by calling the box office on 01902 429212
Watch the 2014 tour trailer here: