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Matthew Bourne Revives 'The Red Shoes' for His New Ballet

By Philip Trapp on Apr 05, 2016 10:24 PM EDT
Matthew Bourne Matthew Bourne attends The Olivier Awards with Mastercard at The Royal Opera House on April 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo : Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

Esteemed British choreographer Matthew Bourne has selected The Red Shoes as his next ballet production. A brave choice, the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale was previously adapted as an ill-fated 1993 Broadway show. The ballet will open at Devon's Theatre Royal, Plymouth, England, in November. 

The midcentury movie version of the whimsical tale is a beloved classic. However, when Broadway composer Jule Styne conceived its '90s stage version, the doomed production ran at the Gershwin Theatre for only five showings and is reported to have lost millions of dollars.

To wit, conjecture among theater followers has deemed the story virtually cursed. Bourne, known for his acclaimed stagings of Swan Lake and Edward Scissorhands, is undeterred. As reported by The Guardian, the choreographer intends the production to be his epistle to the art form:

"Bourne is to make a ballet version of the 1948 Powell and Pressburger film, which starred Moira Shearer as a ballerina forced to choose between ambition and love. He said it would be his love letter to the theater, albeit a harder sell than some of his previous productions, such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella."

Bourne, a theater veteran, is the sole English choreographer to have won Tony Awards for both Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography. The artist began his illustrious career with the 1988 ballet hit Spitfire, a signature production placing dancers in the world of underwear advertisement -- termed by its creator as "an advertisement divertissement."

Bourne is no stranger to the business demands of the theater. Having faced its constraints for many decades, the director always perseveres to bring his audience the best show possible. In an interview with the Evening Standard, he showed his awareness of the plight concerning new talent in theater direction:

"I feel the frustration of a lot of young choreographers. It's terribly difficult. With dance you do need space and dancers and a way to present your work. I think we lose a lot of great choreographers because they just don't get the chance to do it."

Bourne will abandon the film's original score in his revitalized production; his The Red Shoes will feature music from Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann. The show will star Australian ballerina Ashley Shaw as lead character Vicky Page.

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TagsMatthew Bourne, The Red Shoes, Swan Lake, Hans Christian Andersen