Larry Blamire’s “Robin Hood” Is a Hysterical, Sprawling, Action-Packed Drama
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre will present a youth-theater production of Robin Hood, a fun-filled family show by American dramatist and screenwriter Larry Blamire, on Nov. 26-28 and Dec. 3-5 and 10-12.
According to Baker’s Plays:
“[Playwright Larry] Blamire has synthesized the conflicting legends and ballads about the outlaw folk hero and created a hysterical, sprawling, action-packed drama. Besides ably retelling the legend, he has created roles that challenge and reinvent the myth. Includes a wise-cracking, superior swords person in Marian, and a Robin who only by chance finds himself a hero. But true to the legend, of course, all ends well: The Sheriff’s sleazy scheme to wed and bed young Ellen fizzles, King John’s vicious taxes are rescinded, the Sherwood Foresters are finally legitimized, and a justice descends on England’s green and pleasant land.”
NRACT guest director Kendra Ann Thomas recalls, “I was first introduced to this play by a friend of mine who was previously in the show and really enjoyed the sword choreography. At the time, I was looking for a show for high schoolers. I held on to the script for a number of years before the opportunity to direct it at NRACT came up.”
Thomas adds, “I don’t get the opportunity to direct comedy very often, so that was a huge attraction. I also think that this script is unique in the way it deals with the traditional Robin Hood myth. There are new, unique characters and fresh approaches to the action of the story.
“I would not have wanted to direct the traditional story — with Marian being the damsel in distress and Robin Hood the romantic hero,” Thomas admits. “Instead, Marian is perfectly capable swordswoman, and Robin — though still a hero — is more witty than romantic.”
Kendra Thomas explains:
“After their involvement in the death of a royal forester, Robin Hood (Max Thomas), his best friend Will (Ren Cleveland), and Marian (Kelly Richard) find themselves on the hit list of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Chris Bynum). “While looking for the supposed murderers, the sheriff’s men (Hannah Woodcock, Renn Brogan, Rachel Johnson, and Marshall Adams) raid a pub in Lincolnshire and kidnap the beautiful Ellen Dierwald (Juliet Flam-Ross). The survivors of the raid soon become the Merry Men (Caroline Cearley, Eilish Urgo, Morgan Walsh, Riley Brogan, Gabe Kennedy, and Will Cunningham), and together they set out to steal taxes from right under the sheriff’s nose and distribute the treasure to the poor.
“All the while, King John (Eric Foster) plots against his mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Ella Wilson), and conspires to invade France, an action that is sure to drain the kingdom of funds. A plot to murder Robin Hood is soon hatched and Ellen finds herself forced into an engagement with the evil sheriff.
“Will wise-cracking Robin and his Merry Men be able to stop King John’s invasion and the sheriff’s wedding in time? Other cast members include Christina Munsey as Hilton, the sheriff’s serving girl; Bill Fisher as the aloof Bishop of Hereford; Kathryn Baker as Robin Hood’s cousin, the Prioress of Kirklees; and Marshall Adams making a second appearance on stage as Guy of Gisbourne.”
In addition to director Kendra Thomas, the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre creative team for Robin Hood includes assistant director Julia Lynch, choreographer Jason Bailey, technical director Brandon Williams, and stage manager Hannah Woodcock.
For a set, says director Kendra Thomas, “We chose to use four rolling pillars rather than walls which limit the space on stage. We needed an open stage for the sword fighting. Two sides are painted with different stone patterns, while the other two sides are painted to be trees.”
She adds, “Rather than try to match a certain time period, we chose to go with more of a fantasy element in the costuming. After all, traditionally Marian wouldn’t be running around in the woods with a sword and bow and arrow! We wanted to bring the story in the realm of fantasy that the kids today really love.”
Director Kendra Thomas notes, “The show has a lot of scene changes; a large, mostly male cast; and sword choreography. All of this had to fit on to a fairly small stage. We simplified the set, using rolling pillars which have different scenes painted on the sides. We used a rolling platform to create levels and rehearsed blocking over and over again to make sure we had room for everyone on stage without things getting too crowded.”
She adds, “We also did some cross-gender casting in this show. Little John and some of the other Merry Men are played by girls and women. We decided not have dress them as boys or try to hide the fact that they are girls. The character is now simply female with the traditional name used in folklore. It adds to the humor and the fantasy of the play.”
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents ROBIN HOOD at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 and 27 and Dec. 3, 4, and 10 and 11 and 3 p.m. Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 and 12 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615.
TICKETS: $15 evenings ($12 students and seniors 62+), $10 matinees, $13 ($10 students and seniors 62+) for groups of 15+, and $5 Student Rush Tickets (sold at the door, five minutes before curtain).
DIRECTIONS: http://www.nract.org/2010/09/08/robin-hood/ (bottom of page).
The Play: http://www.bakersplays.com/store/product_info.php/cPath/1/products_id/1048?osCsid=28e7229448396d3e7b378008936a84d4 (official website).
Robin Hood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood (Wikipedia), http://www.robinhoodlegend.com/ (Robin Hood: The Facts and the Fiction), http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/middle_ages/robin_01.shtml (BBC History In-Depth), and http://www.robinhood.info/ (World Wide Robin Hood Society).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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