Joanna, Lisa and Oliver in Little Red Riding Hood – photo © The Eye Snapper
The Garage is one of Norwich’s hidden secret joys – a charming and comfortable little theatre space on Chapelfield North that hosts theatre and dance courses and has specialised in a particular seasonal niche of Pantomime performance for young children.
Last winter they charmed their young audiences with a delightful Cinderella (see our review: http://norwicheye.co.uk/whats-on/my-first-panto-cinderella-a-norwich-eye-review/ ) but this year’s tale is Little Red Riding Hood.
This show is focused on the tastes and needs of under-sevens and they are encouraged to move around, participate and contribute throughout the show, which is a child friendly length of just about an hour.
As we take our seats, or pull up a cushion for the smaller ones, Little Red (Lisa Wright) is sitting on a large tree stump, apparently sound asleep. We are welcomed by the other two cast members, Oliver Grant and Joanna Brown, then as they wake Red they all join together to tell the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. All three sing and play various instruments to help the play along. Lisa Wright has another successful career as a singer/songwriter, and all three are capable musicians. Theatre Royal regulars will also remember Lisa from her superb performance as Ray Davies’ girlfriend and wife Rasa in the Kinks musical ‘Sunny Afternoon’ which came to Norwich in April.
The bigger kids (like me) are nearly outnumbered today by a lively bunch of toddlers, babies and eager young explorers who help the cast as they tell their story.
Oliver doubles as the panto dame, mother to Red and her sister Violet, and the big bad wolf. He is not the scariest wolf that you will ever see but he does have a great howl.
Red’s sister Violet (Joanna Brown) is a clumsy gawky teenager who gets very upset by the accidents she is prone to, so needs a lot of reassurance from the audience to keep her cheerful. Joanna also doubles as Red’s poorly granny, who lives deep in the forest where the witches and wolves are such a nuisance.
We also meet a few other characters, a messenger pigeon, a fluffy puppy and even a glimpse or two of a rather handsome spider! The cast of course need a lot of help to get through their adventure as Red and Violet travel through the dark forest to visit their granny and take her a basket full of treats, which we have all helped to bake. The young audience did their best today, including some very detailed advice! It is a pleasure to be with children in the theatre and see them encouraged to talk and join in and run around if they want, rather than ‘shushed’ into sulky silence.
Director Daniel Burgess has created a show which revolves around the children in the room, and the three cast members clearly enjoy working with the kids and their enthusiasm is infectious. If you want to take a break with your tribe of little ones from the rigours of Christmas shopping this is the perfect escape for a magic hour, which will leave children of all ages with happy memories of a familiar but magical tale beautifully told.
The Garage studio is intimate and comfortable and safe for children, and with fifty performances throughout December there are plenty of chances to find a slot for you and your children to enjoy this first taste of the joys of Pantomime.
© Julian Swainson 2017
The Garage & All-In Productions
My First Panto: Little Red Riding Hood
The Garage, 14 Chapel Field North, Norwich, NR2 1NY
Tickets: £11 adult / £7 child / under 1’s go free
Bookings: 01603 598646 / HYPERLINK “http://www.thegarage.org.uk” www.thegarage.org.uk
Friday 1 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Saturday 2 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Sunday 3 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Monday 4 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Tuesday 5 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Thursday 7 December – 10.15am (Relaxed) & 1.15pm
Friday 8 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Saturday 9 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Sunday 10 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Monday 11 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm (Relaxed)
Tuesday 12 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Thursday 14 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Friday 15 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Saturday 16 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Sunday 17 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Monday 18 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Wednesday 20 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm (Relaxed)
Thursday 21 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Friday 22 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Saturday 23 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Sunday 24 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Tuesday 26 December – 11.15am & 1.30pm
Wednesday 27 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Thursday 28 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm
Friday 29 December – 10.15am & 1.15pm