Children invited to join Little Red Riding Hood for some pantomime fun
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Little Red Riding Hood has been given a pantomime makeover in a unique production for little ones at The Garage. Arts correspondent Emma Knights speaks to director Daniel Burgess.
Little ones and their families are being invited to take a magical trip into a theatrical forest for a very special pantomime version of a classic fairy tale.
Following on from last year's sold-out production of My First Panto: Cinderella, Norwich venue The Garage is once again teaming up with All-In Productions and will this Christmas present My First Panto: Little Red Riding Hood.
It is a show designed to give under sevens their very first taste of the theatre, and it puts the children right at the heart of the action from the moment they step into the performance space that has been transformed into an enchanting woodland setting.
Here they can enjoy a unique retelling of what happens when Little Red Riding Hood ventures into the forest to visit her Grandma only to find out that things are not quite what they seem.
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And throughout the show the children in the audience are also free to move around wherever they like and they can even colour in the set.
Daniel Burgess, the show's director and writer, said it was all about making the theatre experience as accessible as possible for families with young children.
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'We've created an immersive space, rather than the traditional space of the audience sitting in rows facing a stage, so the action happens all around and you are sat on the set. It should be quite a magical experience as soon as you set foot in the forest,' he said.
'It's completely interactive. The audience choose where in the space they sit and if they want to the little people can move about the space.
'They will be asked at regular intervals throughout the show to play an active role in the creation of the story.
'The children in the audience are going to help make the treats and cakes that Little Red Riding Hood and her sister Violet take to Granny, they will scare away spiders and wolves, and they will also help Red through the forest when she gets lost - and there are also some surprises!'
When asked how this year's show compares to last year's production of Cinderella, Mr Burgess said: 'Last year we probably did the most traditional pantomime of them all in Cinderella and this year we wanted to offer people a panto that isn't seen so often.
'It's also a really great story with drama and suspense. It's scary in places and then it's light and cheerful in other parts, so it takes the audience on a rollercoaster.'
He added: 'We've been a lot more ambitious with the project this year...It's bigger, more interactive things happen, and there's a lot more music. It's actually an hour-long musical and we have got three wonderful actor-musicians performing in the show.'
Little Red Riding Hood is played by country-influenced singer-songwriter Lisa Wright who has previously starred in a UK tour of the musical Sunny Afternoon meanwhile the role of the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood's mother is performed by Oliver Grant who has toured in War Horse and Stick Man.
Granny and Little Red Riding Hood's sister Violet - a new character created especially for this production - is played by Jo Brown whose theatre credits include The Scarecrow's Wedding and Alice in Wonderland.
Lloyd Gorman, who played one of the ugly sisters in Cinderella last year, has composed all the music and lyrics in the production.
Mr Burgess said the show remained true to the fairy tale but had also added some traditional pantomime elements, including Little Red Riding Hood's mother taking on the role of the panto dame.
He said: 'We've put the show in a panto machine and added all of those traditional panto elements but we have kept to the story. I think people will know the version of Red Riding Hood they are seeing but it is definitely a panto with lots of glitter and jazz hands.'
My First Panto: Little Red Riding Hood is at The Garage, in Chapel Field North, Norwich, from December 1 to 29.
There are also relaxed performances for people with special educational needs on December 7 at 10.15am, December 11 at 1.15pm and December 20 at 10.15am.
Tickets £11 for adults and £7 for children. Under ones go free. For more information and to book tickets, call 01603 598646 or visit www.thegarage.org.uk