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`Red Shoes' Needs More Polish

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THE RED SHOES. Directed by Stanley Donen. Music by Jule Styne. Lyrics by Marsha Norman and Paul Stryker, book by Marsha Norman. The Gershwin Theatre.

`THE Red Shoes'' has finally arrived on Broadway after six weeks of previews, enough firings and replacements for wags to dub it ``The Pink Slips,'' and one of its key creative principals working under a pseudonym.

These are never good signs, and it would be a pleasure to report that the show, based on the 1948 Powell/Pressburger film classic, has pulled it all together and risen above its travails to a triumphant opening. Such is not the case.

But it is not a disaster, either. While there is nothing terribly wrong with ``The Red Shoes,'' there is simply nothing wonderful about it. This lavish musical adaptation never rises as high as its dancing heroine.

The show has music by Jule Styne, responsible for some of the greatest musicals ever (``Gentleman Prefer Blondes,'' ``Gypsy,'' ``Bells are Ringing,'' ``Funny Girl''); a book by Marsha Norman (``Secret Garden''); and lyrics by Norman and Bob Merrill (credited as ``Paul Stryker''). The director is Stanley Donen, who has directed a few films in his time, including ``Royal Wedding,'' ``Singin' in the Rain,'' and ``Funny Face.'' Clearly, a lack of talent was not the problem here.

The plot concerns the rise of Victoria Page (Margaret Illmann) to prima ballerina, as she is torn between her love for composer Julian Craster (Hugh Panaro), who wishes her to give up her career, and the company's tyrannical impresario, Boris Lermontov (Steve Barton), who insists on her abstinence from anything other than dancing and who may be in love with her himself.


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