Last month I attended the press night of Matthew Bourne's world premiere adaptation of The Red Shoes at Sadler's Wells, at the beginning of a six week run before it embarks on a national tour. Much like the movie of the moment La La Land, the ballet is reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour - it's colourful, enchanting and you'll want to see it again and again.
Based on the Academy Award-winning 1948 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the play-within-a-play portrays an aspiring ballerina dancing the lead role in Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale of a girl whose shoes take over and dance her to death. The Red Shoes is a story of obsession, passion and ambition with the heroine Victoria Page - played by the adorable Ashley Shaw - torn between love and her art, after falling for the composer Julian Craster. Boris Lermontov, the charismatic impresario who hired them both, sees this as a betrayal, fires him, she leaves with him and things go downhill from there... Designer Lez Brotherston's cinematic staging features big set pieces of sweeping scale, in vivid colours with 1940s period details from grand velvet curtains backstage at a Covent Garden theatre to sunny beach scenes in glamorous Montecarlo. The dramatic set design is matched by the score, featuring golden age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann's music arranged by Terry Davies and played by the New Adventures Orchestra. The Sadler's Wells run was fully sold out, but you can catch this charming production up and down the country until summer.
The Red Shoes runs until 29 January at Sadler's Wells and is touring until 17 June