Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy, Danella ‘Danni’ Abraham, Kofi ‘Game’ Agyemang, Christian Alozie, Minica Beason, Barrington ‘Page’ Calape, Mark ‘Swarf’ Calape
Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy, ULTZ
Following a sell out run at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Boy Blue’s Entertainments unique brand of hip hop dance theatre comes to the Barbican.
Inspired by the Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the production takes a modern and somewhat innovative approach to the well known fairytale.
Set in an unnamed urban city, inhabitants are under attack by Hood Rats whose system of crime and violence leave citizens afraid to walk the streets.
Having run out of ideas on how to solve the problem the city’s Governors are in desperate need of someone who can “rid the streets of this vermin”.
Enter the Pied Piper (played by Kenrick Sandy), a man with a reputation of being able of being able to get rid of the unwanted. After agreeing a fee with the city governors he sets to work on the Hood Rats and, although they prove tough competition, he successfully eradicates them from the town. But when the Governors renege on the agreed payment he is forced to take matters into his own hands.
Similarities between Pied Piper and another recent hip hop musical, Into the Hoods, could be expected, but in fact the two productions are quite different. The Blue Boy production is more overtly a piece of dance theatre, containing no dialogue and with the story told entirely through dance and music.
This Pied Piper is an excellent, highly engaging show that contains some fantastically choreographed moves, which are brilliantly performed by the large cast of dancers. The music – composed entirely of original tracks – suits the mood of every scene, moving things along, and while, as both choreographer and lead performer, the agile, athletic Sandy is very much the star of the piece, the entire cast is skilled and talented, something the final battle with the Hood Rats clearly illustrates.
While the dancing can’t be faulted, the production could do with honing some of its narrative elements. The story is sometimes sacrificed in favour of the visual, in favour of creating a sense of spectacle.
This Pied Piper may be particularly geared towards lovers of urban dance rather than a broader theatre audience, but its exciting choreography makes it a great night out for those willing to try something new. The mainstream success of both this and Into the Hoods shows there is a thirst for this kind of show. The audience is clearly out there and I hope more hip-hop driven productions will follow. This feels like the start of something big.