REVIEW – “Robin Hood, the Musical,” a legendary tale of ambition, scandal and greed, abounds with merriment at the Hurricane Community Center, 63 S. 100 West in Hurricane. Produced by the Southern Utah Center for the Arts, this theatrical presentation is now playing and continues through April 11.
Arriving at the Community Center for a musical production Monday seemed odd, as the building, which used to be an elementary school filled with classrooms, seemed a less-than-perfect place for a musical production. It only took walking into the transformed classroom venue to see that I was mistaken.
Pam Lockwood, also known as Pam Arts, with the help of cast and crew, turned a perfectly mundane classroom into Sherwood Forest – an intimate and romantic space especially made for Robin Hood and his Maid Marian, not to mention Little John and Ingrid.
From the moment Robin Hood, played by Dan Fowlks, enters the stage, he has you entranced by his charm and roguish good looks. Fowlks brings depth to the well-known character that is, by various accounts, at once historic and fictional, having seen many reincarnations in literature, media and theater since at least the 1300s.
As summarized in the show’s press release, “Robin Hood, the Musical” presents a few twists on the story of Robin Hood. Rather being the classic hero, this Robin Hood is an idea man who’s long been looking for a way to hit the jackpot. When he and John go into Nottingham town to pick a few pockets, they hear the townsfolk crying out against the sheriff’s latest tax hike and Robin gets a big idea.
“His plan is to take the money and run,” librettist Tony Cobb said. “And it all works out just the way he planned – until, of course, the woman comes along.”
In this rendition of the story, Robin must discover what the true jackpot is; and, in so doing, he finds himself sacrificing all, quite contrary to his original intentions.
Fowlks, best known regionally for his film work on and off the screen, is able to find Robin’s weakness and turn it into a strength. His Robin Hood turns an awkward moment of dancing with his hat, for example, into a charming occasion meant to be shared with Maid Marian.
Though Fowlks is a seasoned screen actor, this is his first time working onstage – but you would never know it unless you asked him.
Comedic prose was brought to life not only by the Constable, played by Evan Ennis, but also the Bishop of Canterbury, played by Sheldon Demke.
Ennis is young but showed great comedic timing. The Constable is a fool and it is clearly revealed by Ennis in his gawky wave he gives at the most inappropriate times.
The Bishop of Canterbury is a religious man with a love of libation. Demke gives this small but necessary character likability by zigzagging about the stage in a drunken stupor as he is trying to figure out if he’s performing a marriage or a princess’ coronation.
Demke is no amateur when it comes to performing, but being onstage is new for him, as well. Nonetheless, he shows no lack of professionalism in his stage presence. He also plays the role of Friar Tuck.
Another surprise was Little John, played by Gabriel Ennis. He was cast in this role only one week before the show’s opening. Ennis showed expertise with his lines and music, particularly given he had only one week to learn them.
Ennis’ voice has to be mentioned. Just when you think you couldn’t get any closer to the actors in the intimate classroom setting, the rich smooth tone of Ennis’ voice captivates you and draws you still closer in.
The only hiccup I found in the production was in a couple of the props. The nails the Constable uses to hang the tax sign were clear push pins that might have been painted silver for a more realistic effect, and the sheriff’s aqua blue sword handle might have looked better if it were wrapped with aluminum foil. I found the color distracting and too contemporary for this production.
The bottom line is, I am not typically a lover of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. In general, I find the story of Robin Hood trite and overtold. I am pretty sure everyone knows or at least has heard some variation of the story. So, how could a version by librettist Tony Cobb, with added music from Karrol Cobb, make a difference in my opinion?
Maybe it was the whimsy of the lyrics or the ditzy character of the Constable; then again, it may have been the suave, smooth talking Robin or the blundering drunk Bishop. Whichever it was, I enjoyed the journey through Sherwood Forest with this cast and director. They tamed this Robin Hood-loather; they softened my cold heart with a good script, solid acting and a most confident and skillful director.
I readily recommend this delightful musical rendition of Robin Hood. I expect it will leave you, as it did me, singing “The Sheriff Raised the Tariff” as you dance merrily back to your car.
Ed. note: Reviewer Candice McMahon, and actors Dan Fowlks and Sheldon Demke, have each made freelance contributions to St. George News; there has been, however, no crossover between the reviewer and actors in their capacities with St. George News. This review was made on McMahon’s own encounter, free of any influence.
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- What: “Robin Hood, the Musical”
- When: Continues through April 11 | Performances are Monday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Hurricane Community Center, 63 S. 100 West, Hurricane
- Tickets: $9 adults | $7 students/seniors | $6 children | $35 family pass
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