Thursday, 5 August 2010

If you go Into the Hoods today... : Review of ZooNation's high energy family friendly show



High energy, exciting and utterly mesmerising - there is no other way to describe "Into the Hoods : A London Fairytale", Zoonation's award-winning show.

Photo credit: Bill Cooper
A hip-hop adaptation of Into the Woods, the story weaves together the Brothers Grimm fairy tales with an edgy twist, set in a gritty London tower block. It begins with two children (adorable Lauren Halil and the unbelievably talented Akai Osei) who run away but find themselves lost in "the hood" (Ruff Endz Estate). The Landlord (Frank Wilson) promises them a safe journey home - but only on condition that they find just the right gifts for his daughter's 18th birthday: an iPod as white as milk, a hoodie as red as blood, weave as yellow as corn, and nike trainers as pure as gold.

The kids dance their way through the Hood, slyly appropriating each of the things they need to satisfy the Landlord's wishes. Along the way, we meet DJ Spinderella who is desperate to DJ at the ball, lady's man Prince who is two-timing Spinderella with MC Rap-on-Zel, and singer Lil Red who has been tricked into signing a record deal with Wolf, the manager of Big Teef Records. In the basement, there is (of course) Jaxx, a music producer who gets into some dodgy dealings in an attempt to avoid eviction, and finds himself in trouble with Giant.


Taking us through their London fairy tale, these larger-than-life personalities explode onto the stage with such energy that it is impossible to look away. The choreography - street dance and breakdancing, peppered with nods to jive and even modern ballet - is just brilliant. Some of the routines weren't as smooth as we've seen from ZooNation in the past, but on the whole they are tight, skillful, innovative and slick. DJ Spinderella (Sarah Richards) was sensational - doesn't every girl wish she could move like that! - and when Fairy Gee (Annie Edwards) burst into dance it was an absolute joy to watch. Ugly Stepmother (Rowen Hawkins) is laugh-out-loud funny, and performs some mindblowing breakdance moves, including some hand hops that look physically impossible. We're willing to bet that every girl in the audience (MumVersusKids included) fell in love with Prince (Roger Davies), whose infectious smile, boyish charm and enthusiastic renditions of our favourite old skool hip hop tracks hooked us from the first moment he stepped on stage. The highlight of the show by far is a Matrix-style fight between Jaxx (Ross Sands) and Giant (Jeff Felicisimo), complete with a rewind and hilarious slow-motion replay.


We had a brilliant time, and would go back and see it again and again. No doubt everyone else in the audience felt the same - the ZooNation dancers got a well deserved standing ovation, the hallways afterwards echoed with the excited shrieks of teenage girls, and MumVersusKids found herself hugging Prince after the show and telling him he was "totally amazing" like some starstruck groupie. Highly recommended.


Where:  Southbank Centre in London.
When:   30 July - 15 August 2010
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Suitability: Great for big kids, families, and everyone else who loves fun, energetic and skilful stage performance. Not recommended for under 5s.

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