Brighton company JW Productions approach this inventive and fresh re-imagining of the old Little Red Riding Hood saga with gusto. This is a musical version which includes interaction with the children in the audience from the start and continues throughout, complete with delightfully simple and effective choreography. The direction is tight: they are all drilled and know their places in each scene; the songs are catchy and fun and they can all sing well. The five adult actors are accompanied by a chorus of child actors multi-rolling throughout the piece, and together they all appear to be having huge fun, which is infectious and spreads to the audience.
A lovely new take on an old classic.
This version brings a new meaning to the genre ‘fairytale’: we discover that fairies exist in this universe and that most are not very nice at all. They are ruled by an evil Queen - cue much encouraged and enthusiastic boo-ing from the audience. Janine Pardo plays the role along the fine line of evil enough to make the audience enjoy hating her but not being so vile that it’s distasteful. The young audience are delighted with Little Red, played by Kate Hume, who talks to the audience regularly throughout, much to the children’s delight. She presents a very down to earth girl-next-door accessible character, yet we discover very early on that Red appears to have magical powers.
The story line is a lovely new take on an old classic which is easy to follow for the young audience. Unusually for a children’s show, and somewhat essential, this also has enough for adults to find hilarious as well. There are some lovely throw away lines plus a lovely set piece where all the five main characters suddenly find themselves on stage and turn to each other exclaiming the next person’s name in surprise over and over in a loop, which is a hilarious homage to the Rocky Horror Show as well as funny in its own right.
Hugo Joss Catton plays the big bad wolf with just enough evil to be scary for small children but not enough to give them nightmares, and also portrays the lovely father. His is one of the stand-out performances, confidently holding the audience throughout, such as his various tries at a happy birthday song for Red at the beginning of the show, then getting us all to sing it. He also has a beautifully smooth tenor voice which is rich and effortless in the songs. It is Gregory Ash Ashton playing both Shadwell the sheep and the quite bonkers Granny, who everyone is instructed 'don’t mention the war!' and soon has us up on our feet marching, who steals the show. His comic timing is absolutely superb, and the creation of Shadwell the Welsh sheep who wants to be a super hero, cue a song about super sheep, is brilliant.
There is a wonderful message at the end for you to be whoever you want to be, find your destiny, and that everyone has a little magic in them; which is a lovely message of positivity for young ears and something that we need a reminder of from time to time. A super well rounded piece, cleverly told with great characters and songs, The Amazing Adventures of Little Red is a thoroughly enjoyable show from start to finish.