Dropout UK @ *Shoes* Theatre Production, Sadlers Wells
Shoes Have Never Been So Interesting
Composer & Writer, Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: The Opera) has come together with Award-winning Choreographer, Stephen Mear (Mary Poppins, Hello Dolly!) to create this song & dance revue essentially about shoes and as the first number of the production rightly and boldly states ‘if you don’t like shoes, it’s gonna be a very long evening!’. Now, thank God because I love shoes but theatre on the other hand, not so much so it was going to take a huge spectacle from Mr. Thomas, Mr. Mear and the entire cast/team of ‘Shoes’ to keep me in this Sadler's Wells seat number J32 for two hours.
And by God, did this show do just that and more? On the surface, you would be forgiven for thinking the show was solely about shoes what with over 250 pairs of shoes, ranging from Salvatore Ferragamo women’s shoes to specially designed Terry de Havilland platform tap shoes to Oliver Sweeney men’s shoes to Nike trainers, featuring in this enormous production but Richard Thomas has succeeded in giving us a show about life and using shoes as an impressive metaphor in his stories (‘Hush Puppies’ in Act One tackles infidelity while ‘Old Shoes’ in Act Two sheds light on tradition and breaking the mould).
His lyrics are witty and interesting, the songs are excellent but these are more so accentuated through the amazing dance routines (hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, tap, ballroom) created by Director and Principal Choreographer, Stephen Mear along with Choreographers, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Sutra), Aletta Collins (Jesus Christ Superstar), Kate Prince (Into the Hoods) and Mark Smith (Deaf Men Dance) and brought to life by the amazing ‘Shoes’ 16-member cast, which include Chloe Campbell, Mandy Montanez and Drew McOnie from BBC1’s ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ and Australian double-platinum recording artiste, Kate Miller-Heidke.
However, two stand-out performers on the show that I thoroughly enjoy are Teneisha Bonner (StreetDance 3D) who just shines in the Kate Prince choreographed hip-hop themed ‘Sneaker Addict’ trilogy which tells a story of a woman’s addiction to buying sneakers and singer, Alison Jear (Jerry Springer: The Opera) who simply steals the whole show with her ballsy singing in numbers such as the Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s choreographed ‘Old Shoes’, the sinfully short but extremely funny ‘Imelda Argues With The Nation’, poking fun at Filipino politician Imera Marco who allegedly owns 2700 pairs of shoes, and ‘The Stiletto’. Remarkably excellent also, were ‘Your Mum’ and ‘Violently Come Dancing’, essentially the two tap dancing numbers of the production, with the former incorporating 70’s Rock and Mick Jagger-esque music into its routine while the latter incorporating Salsa and Jazz music into the routine.
A review of ‘Shoes’ would not be complete without a mention of the show’s support cast, especially Laura Hopkins who provided the extravagant costumes for the production which varied from gorgeous dressing gowns to urban street wear and even down to the minute detail of night dresses, and of course Chris Davey the lighting designer who gives the entire production an extra lift via the impeccable lighting.
In conclusion, ‘Shoes’ was a thoroughly enjoyable showing of song and dance in celebration of shoes. It was colourful, interesting and captivating with succinct musical numbers and dance routines that didn’t carry on needlessly. Granted, some of the humour in the script was extremely hit or miss, ‘If You Walk a Mile’, ‘What Would You Do’ and ‘If Your Shoes Could Speak’ were huge hits while numbers like ‘Made in Mexico’ and ‘The Shank Vamp’ were complete misses unfortunately. However, where the show may have lacked in humour, it more than made up for with wit. ‘Shoes’ is showing at Sadler’s Wells until September 11th and I hugely recommend that you go see it.