News: Hip hop happy new year

Tuesday 29 December 2009

It’s a great time to see hip hop dance theatre in London, with the revival of Boy Blue Entertainment’s Olivier Award winning Pied Piper running until 3 January at the Barbican and Zoonation’s Into the Hoods at Southbank Centre until 10 January.

_*Pied Piper* _feels like the more serious show. There are no concessions to the Christmas season here, the set (by Ultz) is darkly urban, graffitied and rubbish strewn and the theme – a modern day take on Robert Browning’s classic tale, with the rats as delinquent ASBO’d hoodies and the Pied Piper (the show’s co-creator Kenrick H2O Sandy) an urban warrior with a cool and commanding stage presence. What really elevates this show into the realms of a ‘must see’ is the participation of some 70 young Londoners, who have emerged from an extensive Pied Piper education project which reached nearly 4,000 children in 25 schools across 13 London boroughs. Each night a group of around 15 join the Boy Blue Entertainment regulars, already astoundingly powerful movers, to lift the energy of the production several notches with their palpable commitment and enjoyment. It really feels like a London youth owned show – which of course it is, originally emerging from a project at Stratford East’s Theatre Royal.

_*Into the Hoods* _is equally London born and bred. Kate Prince’s creation was the first hip hop show to make it into the West End – and then stay there for a record breaking run at the Novello Theatre last year. It remains riotously good fun – and looks like having developed a cult following judging by the audience participation of whooping, shouting and singing along to the sound track of old favourites from Massive Attack, Kanye West and Gorillaz, amongst others. Most of the lovable characters of the Ruff Endz estate are played by the same performers including Teneisha Bonner as Spinderella and Sacha Chang as L’il Red. Impact Dance’s Hakeem Onibudo has joined the cast as the Landlord replacing Frank Wilson, who can now be found at the Barbican playing Head Rat in Pied Piper. He’ll be back to share the role in the last week of the run. The clever back projections – which help to drive the show’s narrative and give the characters added dimension – have been reformatted for this production.

Its not a case of choosing one show over the other – if you’re interested in the development of hip hop dance as an art form – you need to see them both! Some tickets are still available for both productions.

More details:
Barbican Theatre 3 Jan 2010* **“Southbank Centre”: until 10 Jan 2010

“Into the Hoods reviews”:
Pied Piper reviews

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