Into The HoodsPosted on: 28 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
An urban fusion of fairy tales, groovy tunes and energetic dance moves.
Three popular fairytales get a hip hop makeover, as well as more than a nod to Stephen Sondheim, in Zoo Nation's new musical Into the Hoods at the Novello Theatre, directed by Kate Prince.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away two children ran away in search of freedom but found themselves lost, not as in the Sondheim show in the woods, but in the hood.
Welcome to the Ruff Ends Estate, the home of the vinyl spinning J Spinderell who is dating the uber-confident lady magnet Prince, who, being a true 'playa', is two-timing her with the vivacious rapper MC Rap-on-Zel. She lives on the tenth floor of the tower block, letting down her long hair extensions from her window so that Prince can pay her secret visits.
Then there is Lil Red, a singer who has just signed a deal with Wolf, the manager of Big Teef Records. She secretly has feelings for music producer Jaxx, who lives in the basement, who is struggling with debt, is late on the rent and facing eviction. A desperate Jaxx enters into some dodgy dealings with Giant, the resident drug-dealing pimp, who lives in the town's penthouse.
The children meet the Landlord, who sends them out to work for him with the task of finding gifts for his daughter's birthday and in return he promises to see them out of the hood and safely home.
Dispensing with dialogue - the story is told by an off-stage narrator - this is a breathless fusion of humour, song - from the likes of Gorillas, Massive Attack, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Prince and James Brown among others - dance - from pop video-style streetdance to full on breakdancing - and film, which is more than just a show for the ipod generation.
The musical is described as 'an urban fairytale' and the backdrop of a soulless inner city tower block with the kids here resorting to breakdancing rather than burglary has a strong whiff of authenticity as well as offering a clear message to the young - harnessing your dancing talents is far more rewarding than a life of crime.
The youthful company Zoo Nation perform with boundless energy and remarkable athleticism and almost bring a sense of artistry to the hip-hop genre.
This in fact is a musical for all ages, rather than just teenagers. In one scene the residents of an elderly care home, where Little Red Riding Hood's (Lil Red's) grandfather lives, rise to their feet and dance with unforced ease and joy. By contrast a talented toddler comes on stage near the beginning and end and performs 'the hip-hop' with such skill and assurance that it belies her young age and had the audience smiling and clapping wildly.
This certainly is the most family friendly musical in town, and will have you dancing in the aisles!
Booking until 30th August 2008.
Box office: 0844 482 5170 or: www.intothehoods.com
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