When? Friday 9th November 2012
Where? Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, stalls
Who? Robert Anker, Minica Beason, Bradley Charles, Sheree Dubois, Natasha Gooden, Ess Green, Ross Green, Rowen Hawkins, Denny Haywood, Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Sherona Knight, Kayla Lomas-Kirton, Cherelle Jay O’Donnell, Andry Oporia, Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton, Sarah Richards, Ross Sands, Letitia Simpson, Shaun Smith, Duwane Taylor, DJ Walde, Elliotte Williams-N’Dure
Kate Prince’s Zoonation have fast become a major player in the UK dance scene. Some Like it Hip Hop, a co-production with Sadler’s Wells, is a superb follow-up to Prince’s critically acclaimed 2006 Into the Hoods, a dance show which bridged the gap between musical theatre and ‘pure’ modern street dance. Very loosely based on Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic comedy Some Like it Hot, the narrative takes place in a dystopian city, where the Governor (Duwane Taylor) has blocked out the sun, banned books and relegated women to the role of second class citizens, doing menial jobs in a male oriented society. Those deemed not ‘up to scratch’ are exiled from the city gates by the tyrannical regime. Two women (Sarah Richards and the outstanding Minica Beason) decide to rebel – and posing as delightfully unlikely men – regain entry to the city with hilarious consequences. Narrator (Ross Green) moves the plot forward with rhyming couplets interspersed with superb dance scenes, perfectly complimented by superb live vocal performances by standout singers Elliotte Williams N’Dure and DJ Walde.
The dancing throughout is superb, the cast have little to say but communicate fluently and emotionally through dance. The scenes comprise of a number of standalone songs inspired by modern hip-hop music, 1970′s disco and even a dash of acoustic folk music in the form of DJ Walde’s lovely second act guitar ballad ‘Destination Unknown’. Three memorable characters emerge; Sudsy Partridge (Shaun Smith) is fantastically expressive and excels in his second act rebellion, winning over the audience with a charming performance. Oprah (Natasha Gooden) is a feisty, rebellious teenager who comes to the city keen to right the wrongs of the past, she dances very well and enjoys a fun second act disco number. But undoubtedly the star turn of the evening comes from Robert Anker as Simeon with the “175 IQ”. His dancing and characterisation were faultless and the tricky moves he pulled off were simply stunning. Interestingly, the company rotate the lead roles very frequently, meaning repeat visits are a very attractive proposition. The largely British company are so talented and versatile I suspect they are entirely interchangeable; it would be fascinating to see the production again after the next rotation.
It was a delight to see the Alhambra filled with young people, who were enthusiastic from the off – and positively rocking by the deafening finale. For many, it will have been a first taste of theatre and I can’t think of a better show I have ever seen to introduce a younger generation into the arts. This is not to say Some Like it Hip Hop is limited by its target audience – if it even has one – as there is truly something for everyone with an open mind who enjoys quality dance theatre. Less of a traditional book musical than In the Heights, but certainly more than just a dance show Some Like it Hip Hop is one of the best dance musicals I have ever seen. Kate Prince’s Zoonation are as innovative and exciting a theatre company as any and the future looks very bright for British dance with Zoonation at the fore. Some Like it Hip Hop is a show I could watch again and again.
- Harry Zing