With its edgy title, Pannal Players’ pantomime ‘Little Red: Ridin’ in da Hood’ always promised to deliver a modern-day take on this traditional fairy tale.
At curtain up, the Ancient Forest of Knaresborough was a scene of bucolic delight as woodland creatures cheerfully greeted one another to the overtures of Grieg’s ‘Morning’ – so far, so traditional.
The woodland idyll was abruptly ended however as the music cut to The Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’. Enter the sassy Little Red and her girly gang: worldly Cinders, Snow White, seemingly shipped in straight from the Bronx, and butch Belle, passing herself off as sweet-singing sensation. Clearly Little Red and her posse were going to be no pushover for the big bad wolf and his lupine friends Weird, Verene and Baskerville.
Try as he might, the famished wolf, artfully played by Harvey Pennell channelling Ray Winstone, and his oh-so-scary sidekicks cannot satisfy their appetites. Their designs on Grandma, aka Lorraine InSpain (Mike Newby), become rapidly unstuck when lustful Grandma attempts to woo them over lunch. Cue a hilarious take on the Diet Coke advert, reducing the wolves to quivering wrecks. In a departure from the time-honoured tale, it is Wolf who gasps ‘Oh Grandma, what big eyes you have!” and is forced to beat a hasty retreat.
Their plans scuppered, the wolves turn their attention to their next prey, Little Red’s Mum. What follows is a tense kidnapping scene hauntingly set to Billy Ocean’s ‘Red Light Spells Danger’ in which the audience is led to believe Mum has been eaten. There’s an audible sigh of relief as Mum appears with her baking tray, having been taken by the wolves to cook them up a tasty roast dinner.
Turns out it’s not just Little Red’s gang hot on Wolf’s heels; lovestruck huntsman, Munter, aims his bow and arrow firmly in Wolf’s direction hoping to capture his heart. After an expertly choreographed fight scene, Wolf and his mates finally hand Mum back and succumb to an easier life among the Pannal Silver Surfers. Little Red has won the day and everyone can celebrate at Prom.
Doing its bit for girl power in the centenary year of Women’s suffrage, ‘Little Red: Ridin’ in ‘da Hood’ served up the perfect blend of energetic dance routines, upbeat soundtrack and racy dialogue. Just like the ravenous wolf, the audience were left hungry for more.