Roald Dahl’s Little Red Lighting Hood & The Three Little Pigs, Ballet Cymru

May 22, 2016 by

Too think I nearly skipped this gloriously heart-warming, beautifully danced and narrated, realisation of two of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes which in turn are based on the childhood tales- Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.

The dreaded lurgy got me that morning and the sofa and self-pity beckoned. But with five new dancers including young Gwenllian Davies and the new tour opening for this splendid company, I sallied forth to the Riverfront in Newport. Within seconds, and I mean seconds, I had a broad grin on my face and that did not go until the end of the evening.

It helps not to actually know the Roald Dahl poems, here with adapted text by Donald Sturrock,  as the twists in the tale are all the better when they come as a surprise (so I won’t give them away). Each wicked and dafter, clever rhyme comes as a delight especially spoken by the excellent new dancer Mark Griffiths. I do not remember a more enjoyable narration of a show for many a year and this is, of course, while he is also dancing and a nice mover he is too! He has perfect diction with dramatic interpretation and pacing as he works his way through Dahl’s subversive and delicious spin to the well-known stories.

You can just see the delight that the company’s dancers have in performing the menagerie of fun characters including Andrea Battaggia’s Stupid Wolf and Allegra Vianello’s Mean Wolf,  Robbie Moorcroft’s hilarious Bad grandma, and the sprightly and sparky Lydia Arnoux as the sassy Little Red Riding Hood. As the tale unfurls we have lovely cameo animal roles from Gwenllian Davies as Sheep (she also plays the Good grandma), Anna Pujol’s Pig, Robbie returning as the Big Fat Sow and the panto Cow from Dylan Waddell and Miguel Fernandes.



After the interval, where the sell-out Riverfront audience for this revival of the 2012 production really buzzed with happy excitement (apparently the previous night had also sold out), the whimsy resumed with Mark speaking the lip-smacking lines “The animal I really dig, Above all others is the pig.”

Having taken us on a sweeping journey in the first tale, from punchy beats for the dancers, sweeping melodies and even panto panache, composer Paul Patterson’s flowing music changes for this second tale which shares more with the first half then the lupine connections (but that would be giving too much away) enabling even more personality-based humour, jokes and gestures as the dancers to leap, pirouette, flounce, and well, wiggle, through a magical carnival of styles in Darius James and Amy Doughty’s gloriously inventive choreography.

Allegra returns as that Bad wolf and the three pigs are deliciously danced by three beautiful drawn characters: Daniel Morrison with his straw house; Anna Pujol  and her sticks and twigs house and the canny third pig, an Andalusian flavoured Senor Puerco from Miguel Fernandes.  When the rapacious Bad wolf is threatening who you gonna call? No, not Ghostbusters…..

In both tales the company dancers also form an ensemble role of Forest sprites when they are not in cameo roles and the movement is clever, appealing and full of delights that will bring a smile to the faces of any age group – lurgy or not.

Steve Denton has created fabulous and fantastical costumes for the characters (was that really a pork pie hat on the little pig?) and makes our handsome narrator a mercurial Circus Ring Master as he weaves the stories together.  The stylised set relies on lighting design from Chris Illingworth that entwines us in the gently twisted fairy tales.

This Ballet Cymru, Riverfront Theatre co-production now tours with the dancers performing to the music recorded by The Welsh Session Orchestra.  On December 4 there is a performance at Wales Millennium Centre with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

I have a feeling this contribution to the 2016 Roald Dahl celebrations will take some beating.

It is also wonderful to watch this company grow and dancers grow into larger roles, as with this show, and others who performed in the 2012 performances now watching in the audience.


The company is also touring Romeo and Juliet.


Meet Ballet Cymru’s new Welsh dancer Gwenllian Davies:


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