Review – Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood – A New Rock & Roll Panto by Peter Rowe – New Wolsey Theatre till Jan 27th

Well the New Wolsey have unveiled their seasonal production – and after last night’s rip roaring performance it’s got to be said – this one’s a cracker!

This is the tenth panto that Artistic Director Peter Rowe has presided over – and every year they get better. This year there is very little of the narration prevalent in previous productions – a short intro from Cherry Blossom (Elizabeth Rowe) and Jack Frost (James Haggie)  at the beginning of each half sufficed, and then we are into the opening number and quickly into the action.

There is also a lot less of the romance between the main protagonists and much more of superb Dame Grandma Millicent Merry (Simon Nock), who dominates the stage with brilliant comic timing –and whose scene with The Wolf in the second half to Tom Jones’ ‘Keep your hat on’  had me in stitches.

Not that the romantic leads don’t get plenty of stage time to give it their all. Lucy Wells is back playing Red Riding Hood with a lovely singing voice and attitude. Max Runham, who was part of the Ramps on The Moon production of ‘Tommy’ earlier in the year, plays the Prince with a knowing swagger and great matching vocals.

But this year is very much playing it for laughs – with Rob Falconer doing a great job as evil Sir Jasper supported by his dim witted side kicks Didgit (Adam Langstaff) and Dodgit (Daniel Hope Carter), and the wonderful paring of Lana Walker as Miss Moffet and her love interest, the superb James Haggie, hamming it up as the Princes’ man Ruffles. The hard working cast cover all the other parts too and all play instruments and sing as well.  Yet it all works seamlessly without a break in the action or a drop in the quality of the music.

This is very much a show that all the family can enjoy without fear of offending anyone. The humour is suggestive rather than blatant – so children or sensitive grandparents will probably miss the innuendo while the rest of the audience have a good belly laugh. There’s lots of visual fun for the children to enjoy as well – and with the pace cracking along and lots of really good song choices,  so no chance for anyone to get bored.

This is a great evening’s entertainment – the New Wolsey have really done Ipswich proud – so get down to the theatre for your dose of Christmas cheer. And not a celebrity in sight!!

Suzanne Hawkes


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