Nostalgic ‘Dirty Dancing in Concert’ comes to Victoria Theatre

Multimedia production slated Tuesday is latest franchise offering.

Credit: Hulton Archive

Credit: Hulton Archive

“Dirty Dancing” is a surprisingly fruitful piece of intellectual property. The latest offering in that retro ‘60s media universe is “Dirty Dancing in Concert” being presented at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The new touring show from Innovation Arts & Entertainment features a digitally remastered version of the film accompanied by singers and a live band.

“Dirty Dancing” wasn’t expected to be a hit, but it became the 11th top-grossing film of 1987. Since then, the unexpected franchise has also yielded a short-lived TV series, a 2004 prequel film, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” a hit stage production, a 2017 made-for-TV remake, and a sequel film scheduled for release in 2025.

Defying the odds

There were plenty of issues that made industry insiders question the viability of “Dirty Dancing” in the marketplace. The film, written by Eleanor Bergstein, was produced by Vestron Pictures, a video company that had expanded into motion pictures. It was also a period piece, a romantic drama and the first narrative film for director Emile Ardolino, whose previous film was 1983′s “He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin,’” which received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Another perceived strike against “Dirty Dancing” was it wasn’t anchored by bankable box office draws. The leads were Patrick Swayze, whose most successful films were the ensemble projects “Red Dawn” and “The Outsiders,” and Academy and Tony Award-winner Joel Grey’s daughter, Jennifer, who also appeared in “Red Dawn.” Grey’s biggest role at that point was playing Matthew Broderick’s sister in the 1986 John Hughes comedy, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Despite these hurdles the film was a hit upon its release in August 1987.



The five top-grossing films of 1987 were the comedies “Three Men and a Baby,” “Beverly Hills Cop II” and “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the thriller “Fatal Attraction” and the romantic comedy “Moonstruck.” Bucking the odds, “Dirty Dancing” earned the aforementioned 11th largest box office returns that year, out-performing films like “Predator,” “La Bamba” and “RoboCop.”

“The plan was the movie was going to be released in theaters for a week or two,” said Stacy Widelitz, who co-wrote “She’s Like the Wind,” one of the Top 10 singles from the film. “Then it was going straight to video and nobody would ever hear of it again. When the movie came out, it became this immediate sleeper hit. Then the soundtrack album shot up to number one and ‘Time of My Life’ started to shoot up to number one. It was like an explosion or an earthquake. All of a sudden everything shifted.”

Beyond the theaters

After a successful theatrical run, “Dirty Dancing” moved to the burgeoning home video market. It was the first feature release to sell more than 1 million units. The soundtrack was also a smash, selling more than 30 million copies internationally. It was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart for 18 weeks and has been certified 14-times platinum. A second soundtrack, “More Dirty Dancing,” was released in March 1988 to capitalize on the film’s continued success. It reached No. 3 on the album charts in the U.S. and the U.K.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

“I found out recently the (original) ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack is the biggest selling soundtrack ever in Germany,” Widelitz said. “I was in the U.K. recently and when people found out what I have done, they go nuts. They want selfies and the whole thing. It was huge in France too. The fact that it’s not just a part of popular culture in this country but across the entire world is what makes it very unique.”

More music

Widelitz co-wrote “She’s Like the Wind” with Swayze, who also handled lead vocals on the song. It reached No. 3 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

“There have been lots of covers of my song,” Widelitz said. “There were three or four covers that came out just within the last year, one of them in France actually because it was a Parisian Algerian artist.”

Another hit from the soundtrack was “Hungry Eyes,” which was performed by Eric Carmen and written by Franke Previte and John DeNicola. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the film’s theme song, was the most successful single. It was also a co-write from Previte and DeNicola with Donald Markowitz and performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. It was a No. 1 hit in the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.



While Widelitz isn’t endorsing the touring concert, he says it’s “unique” and plans to see it during its stop in Nashville. Nonetheless he will vouch for the power of the music from “Dirty Dancing.” And, he says, he’s always happy to discuss his association with this underdog hit.

“I’m proud to be associated with ‘Dirty Dancing,’” he said. “The stories I hear of how our song touched people are just incredible. It’s one thing to have a hit song but it’s another thing to have a hit song that becomes considered a classic.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or


What: “Dirty Dancing in Concert”

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5

Cost: $60-$100

More info: 937-228-3630 or

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