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Red Riding Hood: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto review at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich – ‘barnstorming’

Lana Walker, Lucy Wells, and Isobel Bates in Red Riding Hood at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich Lana Walker, Lucy Wells, and Isobel Bates in Red Riding Hood at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

New Wolsey artistic director Peter Rowe and long-time panto partner-in-crime Ben Goddard have hit upon a winning festive formula: their annual ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ pantomime takes a simple fairytale, stuffs it full of classic pop-rock, then choreographs it to perfection with an enthusiastic, multi-talented cast.

This year’s production – the pair’s 10th – is no different. Their Red Riding Hood is the sweet, sugary, child-friendly story we all know and love – only with added Nirvana.

It has so much going for it. A witty, innuendo-suffused script by Rowe (there’s a brilliantly sordid joke about being a secret master baker), an effervescent, exuberant cast (featuring a thunderous, first-rate Dame from Simon Nock), and a sumptuously silly design from Barney George.

And then there’s the music. Oh, the music. It’s an eclectic, unashamedly populist parade of singalong anthems, from Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, to Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, from Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, to local lad Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud.

The cast knocks the stuffing out of it all. You don’t even begrudge it when they rock out to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. In fact, it’s all you can do not to belt it out with them.

Verdict
Another belting, barnstorming, music-filled seasonal show from the New Wolsey 
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