This Robin Hood story, as written by Tyler Mills, is told through a boy named Much, an orphan on the run who finds a home with Robin and his merry band of outlaws. Much thinks that Robin can do no wrong, that everything he does is justified, and that life is full of marvelous adventures. Marian, who in this version of the story is not simply a love interest, but was once a member of the merry band, tries to warn Much that there's a dark and rageful side of Robin, but he doesn't believe it, until he sees for himself the devastation that can result from Robin's actions. For this is not a simple, happy, heroic Robin Hood tale. Rather, it harkens back to the very origins of the legend (see the helpful timeline in the program) with a much darker and more brutal Robin that the one we think of today. A world where crime and violence have consequences, where the good guys don't always win, where it's often difficult to tell the good guys from the bad. If you're thinking this might be fun romp to which you can bring your little ones, think again. This is a very grown up Robin Hood.
|Marian (Kendall Anne Thompson) comforts|
Much (Peder Lindell) as Robin (Riley McNutt)
looks on (photo by Rick Spaulding)
|Much, Robin, and Alan (Peder Lindell,|
Riley McNutt, and Nathan Barlow,
photo by Rick Spaulding)
Yes, I said dancing and singing! But this is not "Robin Hood: The Musical," it's a much more thoughtful "theater musically." Music is added organically in the form of a chorus that sings narration, and occasional songs by the troubadour Alan-a-Dale. David Darrow's original score feels both ancient and modern at the same time, perfectly suited to the story, with Nic Delcambre leading the off-stage band. I've had the pleasure to see several of the shows for which David has written the score (see this and this and this), all with completely different styles perfectly suited to the story. I'm beginning to think there's no style of music he can't write authentically and originally (I'm waiting for his rap musical). The sparse and thoughtful addition of music works beautifully well, but selfishly I wish there were more of it. There are a lot of talented voices in this cast that we don't get to hear from much or at all, and I couldn't help but wish for a Robin/Marian duet just so we could hear Riley and Kendall's gorgeous voices joined together. But alas, this isn't that kind of show (maybe they can do a companion cabaret show with a duet of "Everything I Do, I Do It For You," and now I've just dating myself with my Robin Hood frame of reference). My only real complaint with the music is that the sound was often too loud, with all of the actors miked to be heard over the music, but still amplified even during dialogue scenes with no musical score. Maybe they wanted it to sound like a rock concert, but it was too much sound for that intimate space. I didn't notice it as much in Act II, and I did see a preview, so hopefully they'll continue to work out the sound mix in the Ritz, which can sometimes be a tricky space.
|the cast of The Boy and Robin Hood (photo by Rick Spaulding)|
This month saw the promising debuts of three new theater companies, and the possible demise of another. Starting a theater company ain't easy, with much (pardon the pun) to think about besides just the art itself. I wish much luck to Trademark Theater and the others making their debut this month. Hopefully they will learn from their predecessors and make wise choices, because I want to see more shows like The Boy and Robin Hood - exciting, creative, engaging, and bold. Continuing at the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis through June 11.
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.