It was originally commissioned by Sadler's Wells and premiered at its home Islington base for a run from Sept. 3-11. The show, which features 12 dancers, 4 singers, a live band and over 250 pairs of shoes, tells of life through the street-level perspective of one of the great passions of the modern age – footwear.
In a press statement, Alistair Spalding — artistic director and chief executive of the theatre – commented, "In the past six years of commissioning and producing work at Sadler’s Wells I have had the opportunity to support ambitious, talented and inspiring artists whose work has spanned contemporary dance, visual art, music, theatre and fashion. As a result the work has been wide-ranging, from zero degrees which united Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney, to Eonnagata which fused the talents of Robert Lepage, Sylvie Guillem, Russell Maliphant and Alexander McQueen. Capable of bringing dance to an even wider audience, I am delighted that Shoes adds another dimension to Sadler’s Wells’ programme."
Composer Richard Thomas, who is best known for co-creating Jerry Springer – the Opera, has written a score of 29 songs and instrumental numbers that reflect the many memories and emotions people associate with shoes. Song titles include "The Psychology of Purchase in the Temple of Retail," "Health & Safety," "Sneaker Addict" and "Imelda Argues with The Nation." In a press statement, Thomas commented, "My way into the world of footwear was to buy a flip cam and hit the streets. What I discovered through interviewing artists, a Brooklyn shoe-shiner, shoe-fetishists, designers and many more, is that people love to talk about their shoe memories. Some stories were funny, some were moving, some were alarmingly devious and others heart-stoppingly expensive. All these stories informed the songs for the show and seem to connect with the audiences that have seen it so far. It's fantastic that what began as a simple idea, can now extend its life into the West End."
Directed and choreographed by Stephen Mear (Broadway's The Little Mermaid, co-choreographer of Mary Poppins in the West End and Broadway, and choreographer of Sweet Charity currently at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket), the show also showcases choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (zero degrees, Sutra), Aletta Collins (Bloom, The Tempest, Jesus Christ Superstar), Kate Prince (Into the Hoods) and Mark Smith (Deaf Men Dancing), who under Mear’s direction, each worked on specific dance numbers set to Thomas' songs.
The show is designed by Tom Pye (Fiddler on the Roof), with costumes by Laura Hopkins (Blackwatch) and lighting design by Chris Davey (The Car Man). The set design also features films by artist and music video director Tim Hope (videos for Coldplay and R.E.M and projections for The Mighty Boosh UK tour) and BAFTA winner Gaëlle Denis. For the world-premiere run at Sadler's Wells that ran Sept. 3-11, the production featured the support and involvement of over 17 major brands and designers from the footwear. The cast of 12 dancers included Chloe Campbell, Mandy Montanez and Drew McOnie (from TV's "So You Think You Can Dance"), plus Zoonation's Teneisha Bonner, and Aaron Sillis, winner of the South Bank Show Breakthrough award for his role in Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray. The four singers included Olivier Award-nominated Alison Jiear (Jerry Springer - The Opera, ENO's On the Town) and best-selling artist Kate Miller-Heidke, whose latest album went platinum in her native Australia in 2009.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 412 4322, or visit www.sadlerswells.com.