18 July 2006

A few days ago, Mrs. Toub and I caught a performance of Hot Feet, which, as I've blogged previously, is an Earth, Wind and Fire jukebox musical transparently based on The Red Shoes, my favorite movie. I'm actually rather curious as to the legal status of this remake. The official program doesn't credit the movie, but it's clearly a character-by-character takeoff on The Red Shoes, complete with cribbed dialogue and plot points. (The actors are, however, noticeably shy about saying the words "red shoes" onstage. This leads to a number of awkward moments, including the lead character's death scene. Instead of saying "Take off the red shoes," she's reduced to yelling, "Take them off! Take them off!")

Anyway, it's a lousy musical with some good dancing. It's closing on Sunday, and it sure looks like a flop to me. The New York Times begs to differ, however. According to Transamerica, the insurance company that financed the show, it was a great investment—because it's all about branding. In the long run, when it comes to building brand awareness, spending $8 million to sponsor a musical may make more sense than spending the same amount of money on television commercials. I'm not sure if I buy the argument, but more importantly, Transamerica has deep pockets. If I were Emeric Pressburger's grandson, I'd be looking into my legal options. Clearly, somebody at Transamerica took the words "Take off The Red Shoes" much too literally.

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