With their revamped version of the award-winning production, ZooNation Dance Company continues to raise the bar for hip-hop theatre
Words: Tenelle Ottley-Matthew, Subeditor: Bea Renshaw
The reworking and re-telling of classic fairytale stories is commonplace today. The efforts that are made to keep these stories alive and adapt them for modern audiences can at times feel lacklustre, repetitive and just plain unoriginal (*cough* Hollywood *cough*).
‘Into The Hoods’ has successfully turned Sondheim’s iconic musical ‘Into The Woods’, into something current, fresh and relevant for audiences of all ages.
ZooNation Dance Company’s ‘Into The Hoods’, was the first hip-hop dance show to perform in the West End in 2008. I first saw the production that year, when it was dubbed a “hip-hop fairytale”. I was blown away and have since seen it three more times. Clearly it leaves that kind of impression on many who see it.
This year, however, ‘Into The Hoods’ underwent a remix with new designs, choreography and some changes to the already dope soundtrack. I personally struggled to see how the production could be any better but having seen – no, experienced it – ‘Into The Hoods: Remixed’ during its first run in London, I can safely say that this is a remix that definitely worked.
In the story, we meet two innocent children who are on the run and end up lost in the hood, on the Ruff Endz Estate where the play is set. It’s not long before the children encounter the no-nonsense landlord, who gives them the task of finding four gifts for his daughter, Rap-on-Zel, a resident on the estate. They have four days to find: a white iPhone, a red hoodie, gold trainers and weave “as yellow as corn” (I love that!). Also residing on the estate are Lil Red, an aspiring songstress, Jaxx, who struggles financially and does everything he can to avoid being evicted, charismatic DJ Spinderella, somewhat shady record label manager Wolf, TV celeb Prince and the Giant of the Beanstalk Towers who lives in the penthouse.
Much of the incredibly tight choreography still feels ahead of its time in 2015. A personal highlight of mine is when the cast begin to flawlessly perform the moves to MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t Touch This’, and do something similar later on with Cameo’s ‘Candy’. There’s a good amount of gyrating that goes on too, which is never something worth complaining about.
Another great feature of ‘Into The Hoods: Remixed’ is its humour. A moment that triggers widespread eruptive laughter, is when the posh-sounding narrator says that Spinderella, following a romantic dance with Prince at the ball, tragically left behind a gold Nike trainer…from Foot Locker!
Although the dancing inevitably takes centre-stage, the acting doesn’t disappoint. All in all, ‘Into The Hoods: Remixed’ is a lively, inviting and even culturally relevant production that all the family can enjoy. You can feel that hip-hop goes beyond just a style of dance for these performers, they truly believe in it as a culture and that it adds to the experience.
You can catch ‘Into The Hoods: Remixed’ in 2016 when it begins its national tour. It will be showing at London’s Peacock Theatre from 4th to 21st May 2016.