You can probably tell the target audience for this music and dance show, a transfer from Sadler’s Wells’ Islington base, by the fact that front of house staff were handing out complimentary copies of Grazia magazine to any audience member that wanted one.
This is not a show for traditional lovers of dance. It is, however, accessible to people who can’t tell their Manolo Blahniks from their Jimmy Choos. That said, an interest in footwear will help sell some of the very weak jokes that Richard Thomas’s score extends into full three-minute songs.
A sequence of musical numbers each inspired by shoes, this is a hit-and-miss montage that will probably improve over the course of the run — we saw the first night of the Peacock transfer, which has an almost completely new cast and was also suffering from at least one of the principals being off sick.
There were some technical faults — most notably a UV routine which lacked any UV lighting, reducing the whole routine to a blacked out pointlessness — but the real problem is with the scrappiness of the whole thing. Some dances go one for far too long, comic interludes with a soloist coming on in comedy footwear tend to fall flat, and the street dance segments lack either precision or enthusiasm.
There are bright spots, though: several dance numbers lift the whole production. In particular, the second act segments looking at how Cinderella and Prince Charming fared after the glass slipper fit, and how a new bride becomes convinced her grandmother’s shoes are responsible for a family curse, lift the post-interval show tremendously. The sight of a troupe of dancers tap-dancing in platform shoes and of a very cute swimwear section also contribute to the more pleasurable aspects.
I’m sure Shoes will improve steadily as the run progresses (performances continue until April 3) but, for all the fun bits, it’s not a show I’d be willing to return to see.
The video below includes performances from the original Sadler’s Wells cast: