Shoes has been commissioned and produced by London's Sadlers' Wells, where it will begin performances Sept. 3 prior to an official opening Sept. 7 for a run through Sept. 11. Its season there will be followed by a U.K and international tour in 2011.
The show will feature a cast of 12 dancers, joined by four singers, including modern Australian phenomenon Kate Miller-Heidke and Alison Jiear (Olivier nominated for her role in Jerry Springer – the Opera in which she played Shawntell, the woman who dreams of being a pole dancer), and a live band.
The production will be directed and choreographed by Stephen Mear (currently represented on Broadway by his co-choreography of Mary Poppins and at London's Menier Chocolate Factory by his choreography for Sweet Charity). He will be joined by fellow choreographers Aletta Collins, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Kate Prince. The musical director will be Martin Lowe. The show is being designed by Tom Pye, with costumes by Laura Hopkins, lighting by Chris Davey and film and animation by Tim Hope.
According to press materials, the piece – Thomas's first large-scale production since Jerry Springer – the Opera — is inspired by one of the greatest modern obsessions of our modern times. It will explore the gamut of footwear, "from the highs of the Louboutin to the lows of the croc." In a press statement Thomas commented, "If you ask anyone to pick out the most significant pair of shoes in their lifetime, you will hear as much about personal memories and emotions as you will about brands. The common factor seems to be joy. So via desire, fetish, hammertoes, bunions and the anomalous success of the Ugg boot, Shoes is basically about joy – searching for it, finding it and losing it."
Stephen Mear adds, "Some of the greatest choreographers; Balanchine, Robbins and Petit were drawn outside their balletic domain to create work for musicals and the glamorous Parisian dance revue scene. For this subject matter, and Richard Thomas’ unique yet wide variety of songs and music, the other ingredient had to be dance. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Aletta Collins, Kate Prince and myself, all have totally different variations of style, enabling us to bring to the show as much diversity through the dancers as Richard will bring through his wonderful music." Thomas is best known for composing and co-writing Jerry Springer – the Opera, which premiered at the National Theatre in 2003 and subsequently transferring to the West End's Cambridge Theatre, winning four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical.
Mear has, in addition to his current credits as choreographer of Sweet Charity at London's Menier Chocolate Factory and co-choreographer of Mary Poppins at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre and on a U.S tour, also choreographed The Little Mermaid on Broadway, and Sinatra, Acorn Antiques, Tonight's the Night and Soul Train in the West End. At the National, he choreographed Anything Goes (subsequently transferring to the West End) and Singin' in the Rain (which originated at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds).
Cherkaoui, who is an Associate Artist at Sadlers' Wells, made his debut as a choreographer with the musical Anonymous Society.
Collins has been a dancer and choreographer for London Contemporary Dance Theatre, and she is associate artist at the Royal Opera House, where she most recently choreographed and directed an original stage version of The Red Balloon, based on the book by Albert Lamorisse for ROH2 at the Linbury.
Prince, who is currently choreographing for "So You Think You Can Dance" on BBC1, directed and co-choreographed Into the Hoods at the West End's Novello Theatre, and was lead choreographer for the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic handover ceremonies with dancers from ZooNation, CandoCo and The Royal Opera House. In 2009 Prince completed filming on the movie "StreetDance 3D", due for release in May 2010.
Lowe was musical director, vocal coach and conductor on "Mamma Mia! – The Movie." Theatre credits include Jerry Springer – the Opera at the National and West End, and Caroline or Change, Once in a Lifetime and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, all at the National, and Mamma Mia!, The Full Monty and Cats in the West End.
Jiear's previous West End credits include appearing as part of the Fabulous Singlettes, an Australian girl trio. She was also seen in The Hot Mikado, Grease and Jerry Springer – the Opera.
Miller-Heidke and her partner-guitarist-collaborator Keir Nuttall were the first Australians to win the prestigious International Songwriting Competition grand prize, with "Caught In The Crowd" handpicked from more than 17,000 entries. Her debut album "Little Eve" was ARIA nominated, and its follow-up "Curioser," recorded with Los Angeles producer Mickey Petralia (Beck, Peaches, eels, Dandy Warhols), debuted at Number 8 in the ARIA album charts. It has now exceeded platinum status, and features the top 3 single, "The Last Day On Earth." In October 2009, she toured the U.S. as special guest of Ben Folds.
To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 412 4300 or visit www.sadlerswells.com.