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BrumHour is invited to experience and review productions at Birmingham Hippodrome throughout the year.
By Julie Wallis
The Red Shoes at Birmingham Hippodrome
Sir Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes reduced me to tears! It’s so spectacularly gorgeous and it is at Birmingham Hippodrome until 15th February just in time for the perfect Valentines celebration.
This simply stunning ballet tells the story, very loosely based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen of the girl who wore a pair of red shoes and could not stop dancing. This version contains just about every human emotion.
Set in the 1940s, Victoria the ballet dancer (Cordelia Braithwaite or Ashley Shaw) is enticed away from London to star in the ballet The Red Shoes in Monte Carlo. Despite Catching the attention of ballet impresario Boris Lermontov (Reece Caustin or Glenn Graham), she only has eyes for struggling composer Julian Craster (Harrison Dowzell or Stephen Murray or Dominic North). After she returns to London with Julian she goes from being a star of the ballet to working in a seedy music hall, but then she is offered a second chance to return to Monte Carlo. Before she can… disaster strikes!
The dancing in this is totally enthralling, with lots of energy and so much grace. It’s easy to forget just how difficult being a ballet dancer is when everyone on stage makes every movement look so elegant and effortless.
There are a few comedic moments, the music hall sand dance certainly got a good few laughs. As I said, this production really does have every single human emotion all perfectly packaged up in two hours of breathtaking entertainment. All of this and it has had the Matthew Bourne magic too. Even if I didn’t know this was a Matthew Bourne production when I arrived, I would have realised it pretty soon as it has his unique take on things. Mr Bourne has his signature moves and a charming quirkiness of his own that makes his ballets easily identifiable and so very entertaining. I’m always in awe of the dancers for both the beauty and the easy way they make the seemingly impossible look so effortless but I must also commend them on the way they bring to life a story without using a single word.
I adored the set and the way it moved. For lots of this show we are watching other shows, shows within the ballet. For instance, when Victoria is on stage at the music hall or dancing in the ballet in Monte Carlo, we see her on stage, we then see the set spin around and we can see her behind the curtain too. It’s very clever. I also loved when the End of Season Party which takes place at the beach. Again it’s a beautiful set and there is so much joy coming from the stage as the crew parties.
Following last night’s performance, we stayed behind to listen to a Q & A session with Matthew Bourne himself. He took the time to answer a host of questions thrown at him from the audience. Thanks to this Q & A I found out that most of the roles are covered by two or three different dancers. He told us that he loves to be a part of the audience of his own productions too and that rehearsals can be as short as 4 weeks!
With a wonderful score too, thanks to the New Adventures Orchestra this version of the Red Shoes is truly something to behold.
The Red Shoes is at Birmingham Hippodrome until 15th February. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/the-red-shoes-3
This isn’t a sponsored post.