Writer/Director: Kate Prince
Reviewer: Matthew Bagnall
Once upon a time there was a fairy tale that combined all fairy tales and it dazzled audiences across the world. Based on Sondheim’s Into the Woods, this electric dance show by ZooNation is cleverly written, using some of the most popular fairy tales and bringing them together Into the Hoods.
Having first opened in 2006, Kate Prince’s show went on to become a huge success at the Edinburgh Fringe and the West End, becoming the longest running dance show of its kind. In its revival, Into the Hoods: Remixed brings back all the exemplary dance moves but with some subtle changes that Prince wanted to alter. What is performed is a spectacular showcase of dancing talent and digital artistry for audiences of all ages to enjoy.
The concept of the piece has to be recognised for being the key to the success of this production. It is unlike any other dance show in recent history. A fairy tale extravaganza where we meet the residents of the appropriately named ‘Ruff Endz Estate’ including DJ Spinderella, MC Rap-on-Zel and Celebrity Prince who of course are involved in a complicated love triangle. The lovable Jaxx is struggling to pay his rent and his landlord tasks two school children with the challenge of finding four gifts for his daughters 18th birthday party. In return they will earn their bus passes home and an escape from the ‘hood’. Lil Red gets herself into trouble with the Wolf – played by Duwane Taylor -who brings a sense of comedic intimidation, as you would expect with such a role.
Through combining all of these fairy tales in a cultural manner, Kate Prince has bought real texture to the production as the audience’s attention consistently changes from each of the characters dilemmas. Occasionally focus drifts from the story and there is too much emphasis on showcasing dance skills but this does little to detract from the excellent writing and concept for the show.
The choreography by Rowen Hawkins is strong. Despite the occasional drifting moment, there are some very well structured routines which bring an array of emotions to the show. The high quality of the choreography is reflected through the performance skills of the cast who perfectly display their talents, which of course will be enough inspiration for youngsters to aspire to when seeing the production. Corey Culverwell stands out for his dance skills while portraying the charming and affectionate Jaxx.
The choice of sound and music will not have been a simple task, with very few moments of dialogue to help tell the story. The occasional moments of narration help direct the audience with what is unfolding while being consistent with more fairy tale references in the process.
The video projections by Andrzej Goulding are exceptional. You will do well to find another production with such a brilliant video design. The lighting by Andrew Murrell and the set designed by Ben Stones complement each other very well. The overall production values are of a high standard which is impressive to see, as all focus hasn’t just gone into the choreography and writing of the show.
Into the Hoods: Remixed is a family treat and recommended for dance clubs. Even for those less interested in hip-hop or dance altogether, this cultural approach to a collection of the nation’s favourite fairy tales is worth watching alone. The fantastic dance skills and production designs are a bonus.
Runs until Saturday 9 April 2016 | Photo:Hugo Glendinning