Britain’s Got Talent threw street dance into the limelight winning it a whole new popular audience that has continued to grow. In ‘Some Like it Hip Hop’, Zoonation has taken the art form a leap-forward, creating full-length narrative dance that appeals to both dance and musical audiences.
As thrilling new, genre-busting theatre, the show won rave reviews and an Olivier nomination when it was first seen in 2011. Eight years on, its mix of original music by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen, dance, comedy and storytelling is no less infectious.
Ben Stones’ dystopian design of metal and raised platforms gives the production a graphic novel feel – the perfect setting for the opening narration. We are in a city where books are banned and women are restricted to the most menial of tasks. Anyone who doesn’t conform to the Governor’s repressive dictatorship is banished beyond the city walls.
Those who stay within the city walls don’t fare much better. Even the men, who are allowed to work, are portrayed as robotic, their sharp, body-popping movements mimicking the control of the big boss. Step-in Jo-Jo and Kerri, two talented rebels who don moustaches to prove women can do as well as men, and they do.
Writer and choreographer, Kate Prince took her inspiration from Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic film comedy Some Like It Hot, starring Jack Lemon and Toni Curtis. And there is a clear nod to the train-carriage scene as the women close the curtains on their beds for the night.
The female dancers’ swagger and crotch-clutching is comical as they take on their new male roles, as well as being a clever swipe at the misogyny in some hip-hop culture. There is also an upbeat message for youngsters in that the best dancer of them all, Simeon (choreographer Tommy Franzén), is also the only one who has maintained his interest in books, despite the risks he takes to read them.
Narration punctuates the scenes, but the characters themselves rarely speak, their full expression grasped physically through dance. The 22-strong cast includes terrific live singers who seamlessly weave their soulful vocals in and out of the action.
This family-friendly, light-hearted tale of mistaken identity, love, and revolution all ends well. After two-hours everyone is itching to join in, and at the curtain call the cast each perform their favourite dance moves before teaching the crowd a few to take home. Everyone is on their feet, twisting and swaying, shaking and fist pumping – the audience goes wild and is joyfully uninhibited in its appreciation. This hip hop is one hot ticket.★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Zoonation: The Kate Prince Company and Sadler’s Wells co-production of Some Like it Hip Hop is at The Lowry, Salford Quays on 11 and 12 October 2019. Visit website for full tour details. Suitable for ages 7+.
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