Stage review: Red Riding Hood - Leeds City Varieties

Leeds City Varieties rock n roll panto is Red Riding Hood this year.
Leeds City Varieties rock n roll panto is Red Riding Hood this year.
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It’s eight years since the City Varieties staged its first Rock ‘n’ Roll pantomime.

It took a few years for it to find its own level but when it eventually did it became a force to be reckoned with.

This year’s show, having seen them all, is their best ever. It’s a high- energy, fast-moving production full of vitalilty, audience participation and side-splitting humour.

Red Riding Hood is a pantomime not often staged these days. The original fairy story has its origins in the 10th century and the storyline is rather too gruesome and bloodthirsty for today’s audiences.

However take Peter Rowe’s script with its magical twist, a sparkling fairytale set designed by Judith Croft,and masterly lit by Jason Salvin, add the ultimate cast of pantomime characters

and Red Riding Hood is pantomime at its finest.

Stage review: Guys and Dolls - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Its highly talented cast of actor-musicians sing, dance, double up in totally different roles and most of all engage with their audience from the very beginning.

As Grandma Millicent Merry, Simon Nock is one of the finest dames I have seen for a long time. He immediately connects with his audience with his in-your-face humour (laced with innuendoes), his boundless energy and lots of irreverent repartee, yet he retains the style of the good old-fashioned traditional late great dames his character is based on.

Ben Stratton’s Lupus the Wolf, aka Sir Jasper de Ville, is a baddie of the highest order and was booed with gusto from his very first entrance – always a sign of a great baddie. With acting skills that would not be out of place in a Shakespeare play, Stratton has great physical comedy skills and can also sing heavy metal.

Review: Sleeping Beauty, York Theatre Royal
There’s a feisty but sweet Red Riding Hood from Lucy Keirl whilst pantomime regular Kenny Davies displays great acting and musical theatre skills as Jack Frost, and Ruffles shows he can do more than play comedy.

Red Riding Hood’s eclectic music appeals to everyone from tiny tots to grandparents as they can sing, clap and even seat dance to it but most of all this has an enormous dose of the festive feelgood factor.

5 stars

To January 12.