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Cover to Playbill ProgrammeThe Red Shoes

A musical in 2 Acts, 23 scenes. Book by Marsha Norman. Based on the film of the same name, screenplay by Emeric Pressburger. Music by Jules Styne. Lyrics by Marsha Norman and Paul Stryker (Bob Merrill)

Gershwin Theatre, Broadway - 16th December, 1993. Closed 19th December, 1993 (5 perfs)

Synopsis (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Victoria 'Vicky' Page is a young, unknown dancer from an aristocratic background. At an after-ballet party, arranged by her aunt as a surreptitious audition, she meets Boris Lermontov, the ruthless but charismatic impresario of the Ballet Lermontov, who questions her:

Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?
Vicky: Why do you want to live?
Lermontov: Well, I don't know exactly why, but... I must.
Vicky: That's my answer too.

Lermontov takes her on as a student, where she is taught by, among others, Grisha Ljubov, the company's chief choreographer. After seeing her dance in a matinee performance of Swan Lake, Lermontov realises her potential and invites Vicky to go with the company to Paris and Monte Carlo. When he loses his prima ballerina to marriage, Lermontov begins to see Vicky as a possible successor. Backstage, as Vicky is waiting to make an entrance with the corps de ballet, he pronounces that. "A dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love will never be a great dancer. Never."

When Ljubov objects that you can't change human nature, Lermontov responds "I think you can do even better than that — you can ignore it." He decides to create a starring role for Vicky in a new ballet, The Red Shoes, the music for which is to be written by Julian Craster, a brilliant young composer engaged as orchestral coach the same day that Vicky was brought into the company.

As the premiere of the ballet approaches, Vicky and Julian lock horns artistically, and then fall in love. The ballet is a great success, and Lermontov talks with Vicky about her future. Lermontov revitalises the company's repertoire with Vicky in the lead roles – but when he learns of the affair between the two young lovers, he is furious at Julian for distracting Vicky from her dancing.

Julian refuses to end the affair, so he is fired, and Vicky decides to leave the company with him. They marry, living in London where Julian is working on composing a new opera. Lermontov relents on his decision to enforce Vicky's contract with the company, permitting her to dance where she pleases. The one exception is The Red Shoes: Lermontov retains the rights to it and ownership of Julian's music, and refuses to mount it again or allow anyone else to produce it.

Some time later, while joining her aunt for a holiday in Monte Carlo, Vicky is visited on the train by Lermontov, who convinces her to return to the company to dance in a revival of The Red Shoes. On opening night, as she is preparing to perform, Julian appears in her dressing room; he has left the premiere of his opera at Covent Garden to take her back with him. Lermontov arrives, and he and Julian compete for Vicky's soul.

Torn between her love for Julian and her need to dance, she cannot decide what to do. Julian, realising that he has lost her, leaves for the railway station, and Lermontov consoles her:

While being escorted to the stage by her dresser, and wearing the red shoes, Vicky is suddenly seized by an irresistible impulse and runs out of the theatre. Julian, on the platform of the train station, sees her and runs helplessly towards her. Vicky jumps from a balcony and falls in front of an approaching train. While lying on a stretcher, bloody and battered, Vicky asks Julian to remove the red shoes — just as in the end of The Red Shoes ballet.

Shaken by Vicky's death and broken in spirit, Lermontov appears before the audience to announce that, "Miss Page is unable to dance tonight, nor indeed any other night." Nevertheless, the company performs The Red Shoes with a spotlight on the empty space where Vicky would have been.


Scenes and Settings

The action takes place in the world of The Ballet Lermontov, 1921-1922, in London, Paris and Monte Carlo



Musical Numbers

  1. Swan Lake - Irina, Ivan, Grisha and Company
  2. Impresario - Lermontov
  3. The Audition - Vicky
  4. Corps de Ballet - Grisha and Company
  5. When It Happens to You - Julian
  6. Top of the Sky - Lermontov and Vicky
  7. Ballet Montage
    SwanLake, Coppella, Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, SwanLake) - Vicky and Company
  8. It's a Fairy Tale - Lermontov, Julian, Grisha, Sergei and Dmitri
  9. The Rag - Grisha and Company
  10. Be Somewhere - Julian
  11. Am I To Wish Her Love? - Lermontov and Vicky
    The Girl - Victoria Page
    The Shoemaker - Grisha Ljubov
    The Young Man - Jean-Louis
  13. Do Svedanya - Grisha, Sergei and Company
  14. Miss Page - Lermontov
  15. Alone in the Light - Vicky
  16. Come Home - Lermontov
  17. When You Dance for a King - Lermontov and Vicky