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The insider's guide to 'Dirty Dancing'

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(CNN) -- A stage version of "Dirty Dancing" -- the biggest pre-premiere sell-out show in the history of London theatre -- opened on Tuesday. Here's all you need to know about the latest blockbuster screen-stage crossover.

"Dirty Dancing." Wasn't that the 1980s cheese-fest that had everyone's younger sister lusting after Patrick Swayze?

That's the one -- "Dirty Dancing" was the canonical posh girl falls for bad boy coming of age summer holiday romance movie in which star-crossed lovers defy parental disapproval, over-blown ballads and the limitations of a kitsch script and a pedestrian plot to triumph in an all-singing, all-dancing finale. An instant cult classic, the film propelled Swayze to fame as the heart-throb dance instructor Johnny Castle and has been described as "Star Wars for girls."

Surely Swayze's a bit old these days to be throwing those sort of moves on stage?

Funnily enough, Swayze is performing in London at the moment, though he's down the road starring in the more decorous "Guys and Dolls." The stage version of "Dirty Dancing" is based on the Australian musical that debuted in 2004 and casts the show's original lead, Josef Brown, in the Swayze role. British newcomer Georgina Rich plays opposite him recreating Jennifer Grey's role as "Baby" Houseman.

So how does the stage version compare with the original?

The musical follows the film's plot to the letter and includes all the classic tunes from the original, notably the school disco favorite and needlessly parenthesized "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life." It seems the film's original fans and subsequent generations of teenagers still remember it as fondly as ever. Pre-premiere ticket sales for the show reached $11 million -- a London Theatreland record.

Did the first night live up to the hype?

Reviews were mixed -- to fall back on that old cliche. The Daily Mail called it a "night of good, jiggly rubbish, blameless silliness which ends with an uplifting finale." But the more sober-minded Guardian bemoaned that "it would take a complete rewrite for this to have any chance of being a satisfying theatrical experience, but there are clearly plenty of people who will be more than happy to throw away their money on this half-baked show."

Maybe not the time of your life then. How does Brown compare with Swayze?

The lascivious Independent called Brown "a tall, strapping mass of muscle" but was disappointed by his moves, which lacked the "balletic dynamism of Patrick Swayze... nor does he have the latter's capacity to make you root for the little man." But distinguished knight of the stage Sir Ian McKellan was more impressed, saying, "The show was fantastic. I can't make up my mind whether I want to dance like Josef Brown or dance with Josef Brown."

I suppose Broadway beckons with ticket sales like that...

A New York production of the show is reported to be in the planning stage while industry rumors suggest Jennifer Lopez has her eye on a lead role -- though at 36 the pop diva would seem to make a pretty unconvincing teenager.


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Georgina Rich and Josef Brown star in the new stage version of "Dirty Dancing."

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