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This article refers to the Broadway musical. For others uses see The Red Shoes
The Red Shoes
Original Playbill
Music Jule Styne
Lyrics Marsha Norman
Bob Merrill
Book Marsha Norman
Basis 1948 Film The Red Shoes
Productions 1993 Broadway

The Red Shoes is a musical with a book by Marsha Norman, lyrics by Norman and Bob Merrill (credited as Paul Stryker) and music by Jule Styne. Based on Powell and Pressburger's classic 1948 film adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story, it tells the tale of a young girl who is unable to stop dancing when wearing a magical pair of red ballet slippers.



Prior to the Broadway opening, the producer, Martin Starger, fired the original director, the male lead, featured performers, and the production manager. This resulted in a delay of the opening from December 2 to December 16. Starger, Styne and the eventual director, Stanley Donen, wanted the musical to essentially be a stage version of the 1948 film. However, the original director, Susan H. Schulman, Norman, choreographer Lar Lubovitch, and set designer Heidi Landesman felt that to follow the film closely would produce a "dull, dated show."[1] Bob Merrill was brought in to assist in re-writing the lyrics.[2] The Broadway production, in 1993, was a failure, losing nearly $8 million.


In 1921-1922 the Russian Ballet Lermontov company performs in London, Paris and Monte Carlo. Victoria Page is a ballet dancer with the company, which is led by Boris Lermontov. Julian Craster is an idealistic but egocentric young composer, who is in love with Victoria. Lermontov is a middle-aged impressario who wants to control Victoria, both on-stage and off. She is torn between the two men and her desire to dance, and ultimately commits suicide.


The Broadway production opened at the George Gershwin Theatre on December 16, 1993 and closed on December 19, 1993 after 51 previews and five performances. Directed by Stanley Donen and choreographed by Lar Lubovitch, the cast included Margaret Illmann as ballerina Victoria Page, Steve Barton (who replaced Roger Rees during previews) as Svengali-like Boris Lermontov, and Hugh Panaro as Julian Craster, as well as George de la Peña, and Leslie Browne in supporting roles.

Song list

Act I
  • Swan Lake
  • I Make the Rules
  • The Audition
  • Corps de Ballet
  • When It Happens to You
  • Top of the Sky
  • Ballet Montage
  • It's a Fairy Tale
  • Be Somewhere
  • The Rag
  • Am I to Wish Her Love
Act II
  • Do Svedanaya
  • Come Home
  • When You Dance for a King
  • The Ballet of the Red Shoes


The musical received "uniform, stake-in-the-heart" negative reviews, and lost nearly $8 million.[3] John Simon, reviewing for New York magazine wrote that there were two good things about the musical; one was Margaret Illmann, who was a "marvellous dancer", although she could not sing. The other was the scenery of Heidi Landesman, who designed "inspired re-creations of known locales or inventions of unknown ones." Simon also noted that the "Red Shoes Ballet" "was still fun; it was here that Jule Styne's music, surprisingly, came to life and Lubovitch's choreography, obviously, became most unfetered."[4]

Awards and nominations

  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Illmann, nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical (De la Peña, nominee)
  • Theatre World Award (Illmann, winner)


  1. ^ Suskin, p. 305
  2. ^ Singer, Barry. "If the Shoes Fit", New York Magazine, December 13, 1993
  3. ^ Suskin, p. 304
  4. ^ Simon, John. New York, January 3, 1994, p. 64


  • Suskin, Steven (2006). Second Act Trouble: Behind the Scenes At Broadway's Big Musical Bombs. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 1557836310, pp 304-6

External links



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