Choreographer Kate Prince’s latest production is a departure from ZooNation’s usual feel-good shows. But Message in a Bottle is inspired by the incredible true stories

”People like to tell me their opinions,” says the choreographer Kate Prince. “I get letters from punters with critiques of works they’ve seen.” She is bemused and a little narked, past trying to please others. “I have no control over whether my ideas are good or bad; I just have ideas.”

You don’t get to Prince’s position without most of those ideas being good ones. Over the last almost 20 years, Prince and her company ZooNation have cornered the market in heartfelt, feel-good family shows based on hip-hop, street dance and soul music. There was Into the Hoods, in which fairytale characters were transplanted to a London housing estate, then Some Like It Hip-Hop, a gender-swap dramedy loosely based on the Billy Wilder’s film. She has tackled feminist history in Sylvia, about the life of the suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst (Prince got letters about that one for casting black performers in most of the roles, including Pankhurst and Winston Churchill). Outside ZooNation, she has also worked on hit musicals such as Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

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