Matthew Bourne’s exquisite double Olivier Award winning adaptation of classic dance film The Red Shoes is returning to enchant audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre this month.
Following its world premiere in 2016, theatregoers in Milton Keynes were among the first to be dazzled by Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes when it toured in 2017.
Three years later, the first ever revival is another opportunity to see this popular choreographer’s contemporary dance theatre troupe, New Adventures, in one of his most inspired creations yet.
Bourne’s compelling two-act narrative dance work is a faithful retelling of the 1948 Technicolor motion picture directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; an intoxicating drama set behind the scenes of a ballet company in post-war London.
Young dancer Victoria (Vicky) Page lives to dance and dreams of being the greatest ballerina in the world. When she is noticed by legendary impresario Boris Lermontov, her career begins to flourish.
Lermontov demands absolute devotion from his protégés because he believes it is impossible to be a great artist if distracted by romance. It’s unfortunate timing, then, for Vicky to fall in love with talented composer Julian Craster.
Chosen to perform the principal role in a ballet of Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairy tale, The Red Shoes – which tells the story of a pair of enchanted red shoes dancing a peasant girl to death – Vicky finds herself caught between the two men who inspire her passion. As the company seduces audiences with its surreal new ballet, life for Vicky ultimately imitates art with tragic consequences.
Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes is a real theatrical treat. The score was arranged by Terry Davies using the mesmerising music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann (most famous for his work with Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles). Sumptuous sets and stylish costumes come courtesy of Bourne’s long-term collaborator Lez Brotherston.
The cast for the film included flame-haired ballerina Moira Shearer as Victoria, alongside an impressive selection of principals from the Royal Ballet (then Sadler’s Wells Ballet). New Adventures fan favourites Ashley Shaw, Dominic North, Liam Mower, Michela Meazza, Glenn Graham and Cordelia Braithwaite are reviving their acclaimed roles in Bourne’s glorious homage.
The red shoes dance on!
Running time: Approximately 2 hours, including a 20-minute interval.
Age recommendation: Suitable for children aged 5+ but the story does have some mature themes.
*Production photography by Johan Persson.
Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes returns to Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 28 January to Saturday 1 February 2020.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 29 January 2020: Read my review of Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes, January 2020.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.