Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy
Hart House makes merry with a rollicking take on an English classic
Directed by Jesse McLean
Book by William Foley, Jeremy Hutton, Jesse McLean, Kevin MacPherson and Kate Smith
Music and Lyrics by Kieren MacMillan and Jeremy Hutton
Of the many legends to come out of English folklore, no tale is more popular than that of Robin Hood, a 13th-century hero and outlaw. The character may only be a caricature of the outlaws that lived at the time, but throughout the centuries, there never seems to be a shortage of Robin Hood references and portrayals. Hart House Theatre's latest production, Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy, follows in the footsteps of the many films depicting Robin Hood's story, but with its own twists and surprises, leaving the audience in awe as well as stitches.
As a group of poor English peasants lament their circumstances in the first scene of the production, the audience's eyes are drawn up to a balcony where a man clad in a green hat and tights stands illuminated by a spotlight. This is Robin Hood (played by Daniel James), and he plays up to every charismatic, swashbuckling stereotype known of the legendary character, channeling Errol Flynn in his looks and mannerisms. Robin of Locksley is thought to have died during the crusades, a fact discussed by the thick-headed Prince John (Kevin MacPherson) and the Sherriff of Nottingham (William Foley). They decide to call the outlaw “Robin Hood," his last name taken from the word “hoodlum." They then perform “E-V-I-L," a song which illustrates their love of cruelty and unlawfulness to the people of England. Their guards, or “Goons," perform their own perfectly choreographed number shortly after.
Meanwhile, Robin Hood meets his band of Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, lead by a female Will Scarlet (Kelly McCormack), and is treated to a musical introduction with the song “Len, Ben, Ken, Glen, Glen (there's two of them), and Sven." As the famous story goes, the group team up to take money from the rich and give it to the poor, although this is not quite what the street-smart Will Scarlet has in mind. Meanwhile, Prince John creepily carries around a rag doll head resembling Maid Marian (Jennifer Morris), tossing it away when she appears on stage complaining that as a rich person, she does not want the poor to become rich. Morris' Marian is not the damsel in distress of the traditional tale, but a determined, bossy character who disguises herself as a boy in order to deal with Robin Hood herself.
Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy is a phenomenal production, filled with perfectly choreographed sword fights, original songs, and jokes that have the audience laughing out loud on a regular basis. James is Robin Hood at his vainest, while MacPherson steals every scene with his comedic timing as Prince John. The costumes are accurate and colourful, and the music and choreography make this production an absolute treat for all audiences of all ages.
Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy runs until January 26th at Hart House Theatre. Visit harthouse.ca for more information and to buy tickets.