REVIEW: Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories, Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC), Alnwick Playhouse Studio, Wednesday, December 7

Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories. Northumberland Theatre Company. Picture by Jane Coltman

Giggling and laughing. The little boy sitting behind me just giggled and laughed with joy all the way through Northumberland Theatre Company’s winter production on opening night yesterday.

Yet, so did many of the adults. Because this talented group’s latest offering, Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories, was an absolute treat of a show, packed with comedy, entertaining tales and of course, a happy ending!

Nigel Collins and Laura Jayne Ayres, front, with Umar Ahmed and Jordan Larkin in the background. Picture by Jane Coltman

It certainly was a fine family production which offered something for all ages, with music, chilling moments and villains and heroes.

The production was NTC’s own special take on a combination of fairy tales; some familiar, others not so. It was a collection of funny and scary stories including Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf and The Fox.

This imaginative seasonal feast of storytelling came from the pen of one of NTC’s own, in the shape of Louis Roberts. This talented actor has worked with NTC for numerous years and with Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories, he proved he is just as good off the stage as he is on it.

His script was top notch; highly entertaining, plenty of fun and a fine take on some classic fairy tales.

Louis Roberts. Picture by Jane Coltman

Roberts starred in the show and he and the other four members of the cast did an outstanding job of bringing his theatrical creation to life, showing their diversity and talents to play and switch between some very different roles.

Roberts himself was an absolute treat and his portrayals of the witch in Hansel and Gretel, and the ugly little frog in the Princess and the Frog, were the highlights of his wonderful performance. Some of his facial expressions were a joy to watch.

Nigel Collins is something of an NTC veteran and he gave a memorable showing, especially when he played various female roles; his dainty walk and high-pitched voice were hilarious.

Umar Ahmed also shone throughout the show and his portrayal of the wolf, in The Wolf and The Fox, was a delight. Like Collins, he also raised many a laugh when he was playing a female role.

Jordan Larkin and Laura Jayne Ayres. Picture by Jane Coltman

Laura Jayne Ayres gave a Vicky Pollard-esque performance as Little Red Riding Hood, with a sort of Cockney swagger, while her role as the Devil, with a Spanish twist, was for me, one of the highlights of the night.

Then there was Jordan Larkin, who was the evening’s real shining star. The programme notes stated that Larkin was excited to be part of NTC’s Christmas tour, and boy did it show. He threw everything into it. His performance as the Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood was sensational.

The show’s staging was fairly simple but effective and the quintet were well guided by experienced director Gillian Hambleton.

This highly-enjoyable production is touring around Northumberland and beyond, going to venues such as Shilbottle Community Hall (Saturday, 2pm); Kielder Community First School and Community Centre (Tuesday, 7pm); Longhoughton Village Hall (Wednesday, 6.30pm); Glanton Memorial Hall (Thursday, December 15, 6.30pm); Bamburgh Pavilion (Saturday, December 17, 6.30pm); Longhorsley Village Hall (Tuesday, December 20, 6.30pm); Craster Memorial Hall (Monday, January 2, 4pm); Blyth Central Methodist Church (Saturday, January 7, 2.30pm); Newbiggin Maritime Centre (Tuesday, January 10, 6.30pm); and New Life Church, Morpeth (Saturday, January, 14, 4pm).

Umar Ahmed. Picture by Jane Coltman

For a full list of shows and more information about NTC, visit the company’s website.

Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories is certainly a seasonal treat of a production and would urge families to go and see it.

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