Previewed 6 December 2016, Opened 14 December 2016, Closed 29 January 2017 at Sadler's Wells in London
Matthew Bourne's new dance show The Red Shoes in London for a strictly limited eight week season over Christmas 2016 and New Year.
A tale of obsession, possession and one girl's dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion.
Adapted from the 1948 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film and based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, with a new score by Terry Davies, adapted and based on the music of Bernard Herrmann. Directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne with designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Paul Groothuis.
When this production opened here at Sadler's Wells Theatre in December 2016, Lyndsey Winship in the London Evening Standard thought that "Matthew Bourne's choreography has a pleasing lyricism and the show is full of wit, cleverness and fluid stagecraft, but the climax of each act comes suddenly, the drama not having a chance to get its claws in... Still, this is a lovely-looking production with a bewitching central performance, paying homage to a golden age of dance and film." Mark Monahan in the Daily Telegraph explained that "it's a complex story, one that ricochets between London and France, art and real life. And, brilliantly aided and abetted by his long-standing designer Lez Brotherston, Matthew Bourne lets it unfold clearly and urgently, with no prior knowledge of the film necessary... and there's one sonic coup de théâtre that completely threw me for several delectable seconds - take a bow, sound designer Paul Groothuis. Meanwhile, Paule Constable's lighting drips with atmosphere, and a gold star, too, to orchestrator Terry Davies." Louise Levene in the Financial Times highlighted that ""the stage pictures are ravishing. Lez Brotherston's handsome designs mimic the film's mellow Technicolor palette and match its bravura blend of stage, reality and fantasy... The consistently brilliant Terry Davies has replaced Brian Easdale's 1948 film score with a revelatory collage of Bernard Herrmann that ducks the obvious Hitchcock playlist in favour of lesser-known compositions... Individual vignettes shine but Bourne's over-reliance on our familiarity with the film has resulted in some (as yet) unfocused storytelling." David Jays in the Guardian commented that "when Powell and Pressburger’s beloved film The Red Shoes appeared in 1948, it insisted on finding meaning in the disillusioned aftermath of the second world war. Matthew Bourne’s enthralling new stage version sweeps into our own age of austerity and despair... Already richly satisfying, The Red Shoes will surely gain in detail and resonance. Debra Craine in the Times said that "the resulting production may need a bit of tweaking here and there but it has hit written all over it... There's no shortage of choreography here — it's Bourne's most classical yet, even to the extent of using pointe shoes, though he uses them sparingly... Bourne's New Adventures troupe performs his choreography with tremendous spirit."
Matthew Bourne is best known for his award-winning modern interpretation of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet Swan Lake which was notable for featuring a full corp de ballet of male swans. His other full length ballets include The Car Man, Edward Scissorhands, Dorian Gray, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty.
"The cinema has always been a prime inspiration for Matthew Bourne: his original dance company, we may remember, was called Adventures in Motion Pictures; the current troupe is New Adventures... Here, he has adapted Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 classic, one of the most famous films about dance and dancers, and looks to have another big hit to his credit. It’s credit shared with his regular creative team of collaborators, and, as always, the designer Lez Brotherston provides visual delights and ingenious devices... Bourne’s choreography and storytelling move with pace, juxtaposing ensembles with intimate scenes... The music is an arrangement by Terry Davies of concert pieces and suites from film scores by the Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, and Bourne’s choice proves a great success. It is atmospheric, dramatic, lush or dreamy as required... Characteristically, Bourne turns in lively ensembles such as the party scene at Villefranche-sur-Mer, with its texture of period social dances. He makes pastiche allusions to other ballets and choreographers — as in a wittily extravagant “modern” creation, Concerto macabre, which is the title of a Herrmann piece... Bourne’s creation is packed with dancing and invention, it successfully intermingles reality with fantasy, there’s never a dull moment, and it comes in at the ideal length of two hours." The Sunday Times
"If there is lingering doubt anywhere, home or abroad, that Matthew Bourne is a mainstay of British theatre, a trip to Islington to catch The Red Shoes is a must. His latest inroad into the rarefied atmosphere of full-length ballets is based on the 1948 film starring Moira Shearer, star of The Royal Ballet, and Leonide Massine from the early Russian Imperial tradition. A deliciously cosy atmosphere carries us along, in part lovingly created by Lez Brotherston's Victorian designs and Paule Constable's atmospheric lighting... Bourne has put together a very useful gang of actor/ dancers for this project who get their teeth into this often grisly fun and make it thoroughly enjoyable. A perfect seasonable treat." The Sunday Express
"Christmas dance usually means The Nutcracker, but celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne has turned that on its head by giving us a show whose heroine is driven crackers by a bunch of nuts. Well, kind of - by nuts I'm talking a crazed ballet master, a temperamental lover and a pair of shoes that are Louboutins on acid. It all makes for a giddy whirl around the classic 1948 movie brought to the screen by Powell and Pressburger. With its roots in a tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Red Shoes is a saga of a dancer driven to distraction when she's possessed by the power of her bright red ballet pumps. It's both horror story and cautionary fable - and you can see why Bourne, contemporary dance's supreme storyteller, was drawn to it. Victoria's descent from bright young dance ingenue to tortured artiste offers a perfect framework on which to hang his witty dance moves. The surprise is that he's opted for a traditional ballet structure, with the action punctuated by routines including a recreation of the vaudeville Sand Dance beloved of Morecambe and Wise. While these are entertaining, at times the central story of Victoria's turmoil feels sidelined. It's in the closing act that the psychological storm truly takes hold, with Ashley Shaw in the starring role torn every which way as she struggles to balance love and ambition. It adds up to a gripping, very grown-up seasonal thriller." The London Metro
The Red Shoes at Sadler's Wells previewed from 6 December 2016, opened on 14 December 2016 and closed on 29 January 2017.