Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Review: The Red Shoes

This week, Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes is at Milton Keynes Theatre. It was a sell-out at the world premier in London in 2016 and won two Olivier Awards. Audiences have been dazzled across the world including right here in MK and now you’re in for a second chance to catch this superb ballet which is unlike any other you have seen or will see! The Red Shoes last arrived in MK three years ago back in February 2017.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote the original fairy tale, The Red Shoes in 1845 which inspired the 1948 Powell and Pressburger film. The fairy tale is much darker (as is to be expected!) with a plot that includes chopping off feet and bursting hearts! This ballet however is a brilliant contemporary reimagining of the film that starred Moira Shearer. The seemingly magical red shoes have a mind of their own and will not stop dancing, however the overall story follows a ballet company, their shows and tours and this particular performance with their rising star, Victoria Page (performed exquisitely by Cordelia Braithwaite) and is essentially a ballet within a ballet!
The Red Shoes is a tale of obsession, possession and one girl's dream to be the greatest dancer in the world - whatever the cost. Victoria Page meets Boris Lermontov, the director of an innovative ballet company who has a knack for talent spotting. Victoria lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between two very different men who inspire her passion. The impresario brings her to stardom, but she risks losing her career when she marries composer, Julian Craster. 
Set to the achingly romantic music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, you’ll be transported behind the scenes of the eccentric world of a ballet company and then into utterly surreal scenes as you’re introduced to the red shoes. The stage sets are so clever, as you’ll see in the images (I couldn’t choose just one!), from the dusty backstage rehearsals to glamourous parties and trips abroad when they’re on tour to the surreal set for the actual ballet of The Red Shoes. So with dazzling costumes and stage sets combined with some of the most wonderful dancing you will ever see, the show is completely hypnotic. 
Matthew Bourne is a magician in his own right bringing such beautiful and contemporary versions of classic stories to the modern stage and the modern audience. He has achieved something completely unique with the Red Shoes that would appeal to anybody. He said in an interview for the show’s brochure, “I have loved the film since I was a teenager with its depiction of a group of people all passionate about creating something magical and beautiful. It seemed to be saying that art was something worth fighting for, even dying for, if the rather melodramatic conclusion is to be believed? It was a world full of glamour, romance and creativity populated by larger-than-life personalities. In short, it was a world that I wanted to be a part of!”

For tickets, please head to

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Review: The Snowman at Milton Keynes Theatre

The cherished tale of The Snowman arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, bringing with it a wonderful sense of nostalgia for all of us that have loved watching this classic on TV throughout our childhoods – and still do every year when it airs at Christmas time!

This stage adaptation is a ballet, there is no talking or singing, only dance and clever acting/movements to take you through each scene and set to the classic music we all know and love including ‘Walking in the Air’. It’s a wonderful introduction to ballet for those that haven’t been to one before, particularly for children. All children in the audience at last night’s performance were enthralled by the magic of the show; with many on the edge of their seats and dancing along with Father Christmas’ solo in Act 2.

It does feel an odd time of year for such a festive show, if only it could have been on in November instead, ahead of the Panto season. It did however provide a wonderful and magical evening to an otherwise dull, grey day in January! 

Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of The Snowman has been delighting audiences in the UK and abroad since 1993 when artistic director Bill Alexander approached Howard Blake to ask how he would feel about creating a full length stage version; and the show opened for Christmas that same year with immediate success. The story follows very closely to the original book by Raymond Briggs and the 1982 TV short with music composed by Howard Blake.

The full cast and orchestra were brilliant and I can highly recommend a trip to see this one, especially families with small children. The flying scene (set of course to Walking in the Air) was skilfully executed and performed as they flew across the skies, through the clouds, over the oceans and towards the moon before reaching their destination at the North Pole.