hip hop 2

Some like it Hip Hop

Birmingham Hippodrome


To be completely truthful, I’m not sure I’ve experienced anything like Some like it Hip Hop before. I’ve experienced jazz, hip hop, soul, rap and RnB live, seen dance productions, Billy Wilder on the screen and Shakespeare on stage but I’ve never experienced all of them together.

I’ve also never been in a theatre with such a raucous crowd, who are positively encouraged to interact and react to what they’re seeing. Birmingham Hippodrome was packed to the rafters with youngsters and the dynamic of the audience was nearly as compelling as the show itself. Every moment was played out by the crowd, every kiss celebrated, every moment of angst met with shock and every dancer and singer cheered with aplomb.

It’s an interesting thing, to ship away the normal restraint of theatre, with chuckles and knowing nods replaced by shrieks of delight and gasps of shock. It feels more like theatre should do – certainly it feels more like Shakespeare would have experienced during his time.

Though originally aired in 2011 Some like it Hip Hop is as fresh – and it’s message as pertinent - as ever. It strives to expose some of the misogynistic, homophobic, arrogant and just plain idiotic themes which are still prevalent in society today. It’s a show about love, peace. A show about positivity and the power of good over oppression, of equality, education over blind servitude and of love over loss.

The shows opens with a dance piece by local talent, in this case concerning knife crime, the skill of the youngsters whipping the crowd into a frenzy from the off. It’s nice to see young talent playing out to a packed theatre at the start of the show. Full credit to ZooNation and Birmingham Hippodrome for not taking the easy way out and just putting them on as a support act half an hour before the show started – destined to be half ignored and half talked over. They did themselves proud.


Tommy Franzen as the  bookish Simeon with Michael Naylor as Sudsy 

The main show itself is nothing short of breath taking. From the first words of the narrator to the final number it enthrals you.

Dwayne Nosworthy is an excellent narrator, cajoling the audience to dare to take part and personifying the heart of this show.

With a smorgasbord of different styles and genres you’d be forgiven for expecting a contrived mess of a show, yet they dovetail together perfectly, almost as if each is a dance partner for the next. The variety of talent on display is nothing short of spectacular.

The creative team, headed by Kate Prince, are at the top of their game with some present in the show themselves. Musical director (one of two) D.J Walde is a beautiful singer as well as an accomplished beatboxer and guitarist whilst one third of the choreography team, Tommy Franzen takes one of the main dance leads in the role of bookish Simeon. Franzen has a grace and a fluidity to his dance which is hard to quantify, you feel you are watching a master at the top of his game.

The most impressive (and for me innovative) facet about Kate Prince’s creation is the way that dance is used to tell the story. It is not simply a choreographed play, the dance styles and sequences are intrinsic to the story itself, with characters and plotlines defined by the dance styles incorporated into them. The crunk style of the Christian Alozie’s Governor, or the fluid jazz style of Michael Naylor’s Sudsy or the breakdancing style of Delano Spenrath, Idney De’Almeida and the rest of the cast.

The two dancers playing the main characters Jo-Jo and Kerri on the night, Saskia Davis and Jade Hackett respectively, were nothing short of superb. Their dancing was on point and their comic timing was excellent, with Kerri’s rebutting the advances of the governor’s daughter, Melissa Bravo, a masterclass in physical comedy.

Similarly, the singers on the night gave a blanket of class to proceedings, with Elliotte Williams-N’Dure, Sheree DuBois and Royston Gooden giving performances worthy of a concert in their own right.

The night ended with the whole audience dancing – they required minimal arm twisting to do so.

This is an electric performance with a lot to say about modern society and the pitfalls it contains; if I had my way, I’d make this part of the curriculum. To 19-10-19.

Theo Clarke


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