Monday, October 18, 2010

Ya The Play's The Thing! (So you should go see it)

A Review of Robin Hood: The Next Generation

Performed by the Greer Children's Theatre
Directed by Mr. Kevin Treu

I feel it's important to clarify a few things before I get into the meat of this review. First off, I'm not a theatre person, at all. Simply not my cup of tea. Second, I like comedies even less, with the exception of Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong, I love a good laugh but its gotta be good. None of this halfsy stuff. So when I say I sincerely enjoyed Robin Hood: The Next Generation (RHNG) you can understand the full weight of my meaning.

Now one deserves a bit of insight into the premise.

Things are definitely changing in Sherwood Forest. Sir Robin Hood and Lady Marian have been married for 20 years and their beautiful daughter, Robin, is about to come of age. The Queen has selected the young woman to succeed her to the throne but insists she first must be wed to a man of royal lineage. Being a woman of the next generation, Robin naturally resents being married off so quickly without some romance. So she devises a clever contest in which the best archer and swordsman shall win her hand. Robin convinces her maid to stand in for her while she herself dresses as a man to compete and win the contest to prove her point. And after living her whole life in the forest, winning won't be hard to do!

Meanwhile, the young male contenders have plans of their own. Prince Jared resents being forced into the competition since he, too, wants to marry for love and so convinces his manservant to switch places with him. Other contenders include comic princes Harold and Gerald, poor Prince Rodney the Regrettable, and wimpy Lord Horvath, whose mother (Lady Vendola) has evil plans for usurping the throne.

Needless to say it sounds rather like a Shakespearean comedy does it not and in some senses it plays out (pun intended) similarly to what the Bard could have penned. Much mishap and confusion over switched identities and misunderstood affections. With a healthy dose of modern pop culture references scattered throughout, RHNG succeeds in amusing a wide range of audience members, from young children to adults.

Robin, the lovely leading lady at the helm of this two hour romp in and around the woods of Sherwood Forest is played by none of the other then THE SAVING's female lead Stephanie Ibboston. As her film Director it was refreshing to see Stephanie take the stage with a more lighthearted personality and it also reaffirmed my belief that this girl can play any character she sets her mind to and knock the thing out of the park.

Thankfully Ibboston's stellar portrayal of the head strong yet endearing daughter of England's favorite folk hero was not the only one worth meriting. The rest of the cast very much put their heart and soul into their individual roles and their efforts quite brilliantly shine through. There was a defined feeling of cohesiveness that I find is rather rare for a group of teenagers to achieve. In other words, I was pleasantly surprised.

Taking on the role of the much sought after Prince Jared *insert trumpet sound here* Sean Hackle has the command and presence to handle the character with both charm and wit. And of course all great leads need strong supporting characters and RHNG is no exception to that rule. My hat most justly goes off to the right hand guy and girl of Prince Jared and Lady Robin. Ambrose, Jared's manservant, played by the ever hilarious and very well cast Trevor Catalano and Lady Robin's hand maid Madolyn, played by Laura Scheving cannot help but warm your heart and put a smile on your face.

Now what stage play is complete without a well executed over-the-top female villain that would make the woman who voiced Ursula the Sea Witch grin ear to ear? Oh ya RHNG happens to have one of those too. Roberta Barnes as Lady Vendola pretty much captures the essence of humorous conniving evil personified. Accompanied by the bumbling yet lovable apothecary forced into sorcery, Capers, played by Ginny Treu, they make quite the pair.

Finally rounded out by comedic princely duo Herald and Gerald (Brandon Gaunt & Dean Tierney) this play wins your heart from the opening line.

In summary: Kevin Treu organized his acting troops with masterful hand and cast and crew of Robin Hood: The Next Generation put on one heck of a show! They might have made a theatre fangirl out of me yet. Opening weekend went off without a hitch but crazy crew of the Greer Little Theatre still have next weekend to blow you away,  They need you there. Support the arts. Indulge in some laughs. I promise, warm fuzzy feelings will ensue.

Go ahead, buy a ticket. You will not regret it. I didn't. And I bought three.

MJ out.

PS. Thank God its not a Musical :D

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