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During opening night, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Hudgens, Marisa Tomei try on Matthew Bourne's 'The Red Shoes' in L.A.

Vanessa Hudgens, Minnie Driver, Marisa Tomei, Angela Bassett, Adam Shankman, Suzanne Cryer and Sharon Lawrence were just a few of the dance aficionados streaming into the Ahmanson Theatre for the U.S. premiere of Matthew Bourne’s “The Red Shoes.”

“I’d go anywhere for Matthew Bourne. I’ll see everything and anything that he does,” said Driver about the choreographer famous for envisioning “Swan Lake” with fearsome male swans and “Sleeping Beauty” with vampires. “I feel New York usually gets the [premieres], and that’s why I’m so happy it is happening in Los Angeles.”

She added that when she saw Bourne’s “Swan Lake,” “I never wanted to be a man so much. I wanted to be a man and I wanted to be in the all-man ‘Swan Lake.’”

Minnie Driver at opening night performance of "The Red Shoes" in downtown Los Angeles.
Minnie Driver at opening night performance of "The Red Shoes" in downtown Los Angeles. (Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging)

Loosely based upon a classic 1948 film, “The Red Shoes” tells the story of an aspiring young dancer who is torn between her love for a composer and her career in ballet. The dancer is cast in a show that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of magical ballet slippers.

She is tempted by the slippers, but when worn, she can’t stop dancing in them.

Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon at the Sept. 19 opening night performance of "The Red Shoes."
Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon at the Sept. 19 opening night performance of "The Red Shoes." (Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging)

Following the Sept. 19 opening night production, the cast joined supporters of Center Theatre Group at Hope Street restaurant Otium for cocktails, Champagne and new American cuisine.

Five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein and husband Terrence Flannery were among those awaiting the arrival of the ballet company after the performance. Feinstein, principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops, called the production “staggering.”

“I’ve enjoyed watching [Bourne’s] artistic ascension,” he said. “He combines so many elements from so many genres to create something absolutely new. What he does is contemporary and classic at the same time — and fiendishly different. He just follows his muse, and the result is spectacular.”

Angela Bassett arrives for the opening night performance of "The Red Shoes" at the Ahmanson Theatre on Sept. 19, 2017.
Angela Bassett arrives for the opening night performance of "The Red Shoes" at the Ahmanson Theatre on Sept. 19, 2017. (Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging)

“Los Angeles was first in bringing ‘Swan Lake’ [to the U.S.]. It was the city that took a risk with me, a very big risk,” Bourne said. “Gordon Davidson [founding artistic director of Center Theatre Group] had to explain to his musical theater subscribers that he brought a ballet to fill a gap that had formed. He had to persuade them that it was something they might want to see.”

Then he added, “It didn’t come to Broadway for another two years.”

Marisa Tomei at the opening night performance of "The Red Shoes."
Marisa Tomei at the opening night performance of "The Red Shoes." (Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

‘The Red Shoes’

Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays; ends Oct. 1 (call for exceptions)

Tickets: $30-$165 (subject to change)

Info: (213) 972-4400, www.centertheatregroup.org

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Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.

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