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The Robber Bridegroom
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Review Roundup: THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM

Roundabout Theatre Company presents the first-ever New York revival of Alfred Uhry and Robert Waldman's musical comedy THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM. The production opened just last night, March 13, at the Laura Pels Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 West 46th Street). Joining Steven Pasquale as "Jamie Lockhart" is Andrew Durand as "Little Harp," Evan Harrington as "Big Harp," Greg Hildreth as "Goat," Leslie Kritzer as "Salome," Ahna O'Reilly as "Rosamund," Nadia Quinn as "Raven/Goat's Mother," Lance Roberts as "Clement Musgrove" and Devere Rogers as "Airie/Man."

Wildly inventive and deliciously entertaining, THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM is a raucous, hilarious, sexy theatrical gem with an irresistibly catchy bluegrass score. Based on the short story by beloved Southern writer Eudora Welty, THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM transports the audience to the Natchez Trace in Mississippi, a dangerous and mysterious corner of the country teeming with a rogue's gallery of the most beguiling con men, hucksters, and charlatans you'll ever meet. Chief among them, Jamie Lockhart (Pasquale)-fair-faced gentleman by day, hard-hearted bandit of the woods by night. When he falls for the beautiful daughter of a wealthy planter, his world and code of ethics are turned upside down. A Southern-fried celebration of American myth-making as well as the art of making theatre, THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM is an irreverent, thrilling, jubilant musical comedy pulsing with life and imagination.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, New York Times: Mostly, it just clomps, two-steps and square dances along its relentlessly exuberant way, with sprightly choreography by Connor Gallagher and rowdy barn-dance music, performed by the band onstage. There's a whole lot of twanging going on, vocal and instrumental. But every so often, the score and the staging melt into a quieter, creepier form of enchantment that summons some of the shimmering mystery of Welty's book. This includes the woodland idyll in which Rosamund and her handsome stranger consummate their love, while a voyeuristic Goat looks on in rapt silence. Such moments are rare but resonant. And they offer a welcome respite for theatergoers who have yet to acquire a taste for energetic hillbilly hokum.

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: The gifted musical comedy clownLeslie Kritzer puts on a Norma Desmond-like façade as Rosamund's jealous and lustful stepmom, Salome, singing with soaring pipes and nailing every laugh with the kind of physical zaniness reminiscent of old-school giants like Carol Burnettand Lucille Ball. The storytelling style allows her to occasionally make very funny silent asides to the audience, commenting on the action, and Timbers allows her a moment at the end of one song that, while admittedly a bit cheap, nevertheless induced loud and extended laughter last night that momentarily put a halt to the proceedings.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Steven Pasquale ("The Bridges of Madison County") and Alex Timbers ("Peter and the Starcatcher") deserve an extra helping of applause for the Roundabout revival now on the boards at the Laura Pels Theatre, because the thin-ish plot and bluegrass score of this eccentric tuner are not to everyone's tastes.

Steven Suskin, Huffington Post: The Robber Bridegroom is a worthy choice; the show, done well, is offbeat but a thorough charmer. And it is here done well; as an admirer of the original production, which I saw three times (as I was a college student and they were desperately papering throughout the under-attended run), I can state that Timbers' production works better than the show did at the Biltmore in 1976. What's more, that production's aura of 'worthy artiness'--which contributed to the lack of ticket sales--has been counteracted by an overplay of good, rough and rowdy fun in the manner of Timbers' Peter and the Starcatcher and Here Lies Love. Thus, what had been buffed and polished like a genteel gem of a story is now a knockabout, raucous romp with all sense of preciousness removed.

Marylin Stasio, Variety: Having fun shouldn't be as exhausting as director Alex Timbers makes it out to be in his overly antic production of "The Robber Bridegroom" at the Roundabout Theater Company.Alfred Uhry and Robert Waldman adapted their 1975 bluegrass musical from a folksy Eudora Welty novella about a romantic 18th-century bandit who robbed travelers of their money and ladies of their virtue. Playing this swaggering anti-hero, Steven Pasquale takes his place among such stage swashbucklers as Raul Julia, Kevin Kline and Barry Bostwick. But the show is so overdirected, the unassuming charm of the humble material is crushed like a bug.

Jesse Oxfeld, Entertainment Weekly: With its mismatched lovers wandering in a forest, with a potential husband unrecognizable only because he wears a bit of smeared berry on his face, with its Rosamund (which sounds almost like Rosalind), Timbers's take on Robber Bridegroom seems like nothing so much as a goofy spoof of Shakespeare. Which is fun! (At least, if you're not a woman in a sack.) But it doesn't make much of a case for why The Robber Bridegroom, a forgotten musical, deserves to be remembered. B

Jesse Green, Vulture: Timbers draws from his usual bag of magic tricks, prop jokes, unexpected taxidermy, and winking meta-theatricality to keep the eye and attention engaged at all times. Even so, the story, having been pulled away from any real engagement with its dark fundamentals, now seems like an excuse instead of the point. That inversion makes for some very uncomfortable juxtapositions, for what are these talented performers making such a stomping, high-proof, Hee-Hawfuss about? A schizoid con man who gets sexual pleasure only from rape? I'm not sure that story should have been made into musical comedy in 1975; making it a better one now only makes it worse.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Then and now, "Bridegroom" is blessed with a charismatic male lead, with Steven Pasquale taking over the role that earned a Tony for Barry Bostwick in 1977 (Raul Julia and Kevin Kline also played the part). Pasquale brings his easy, natural charm to the stage. He's that rare musical performer who never forces, which doesn't always work to his favor when it comes to awards: He wasn't even nominated for a Tony for his irresistible photographer in "The Bridges of Madison County" two years ago. Pasquale also possesses a great singing voice that fits to perfection Waldman's lovely ballads and rousing shit-kicker specials. In fact, there isn't one mediocre voice in the whole "Bridegroom" cast, and the sound design of Darron L. West and Charles Coes makes the amplification what it should be: undetectable.

Matt Windman, amNY: The production is directed with atmospheric flare and nonstop playfulness by Alex Timbers, whose past work includes "Peter and the Starcatcher" and "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." Timbers is also set to stage the upcoming Broadway adaptation of "Frozen." Pasquale, who has considerable musical theater chops, plays Lockhart with charm and sex appeal. As it happens, Pasquale recently played Billy Bigelow in an acclaimed Chicago production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Carousel." Here's hoping New York audiences will get to see that, too.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: The Roundabout Theatre Company's exceptionally charming revival of The Robber Bridegroom is exactly the kind of intimate extravaganza you would expect from Alex Timbers, among the most inventive young directors working in the musical theater today: crowned by Disney to usher Frozen from screen to stage, Timbers' c.v. is a wildly eclectic list that includes the Broadway musical adaptation of Rocky, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Here Lies Love, Peter And The Starcatcher and Amazon's Emmy-winning streaming series Mozart In The Jungle, of which he's an executive producer. In this director's resourceful mind, "intimate" and "extravaganza" can comfortably co-exist. Like George Martin with the Beatles or Hal Prince with Stephen Sondheim, Timbers introduces artists to their own works in ways they may well never have imagined. Although it's running off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theatre, The Robber Bridegroom is a highlight of a season that's fast becoming a landmark for musicals on Broadway and off...

Linda Winer, Newsday: Director Alex Timbers has turned genres gleefully on their edges with "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" and "Here Lies Love." Right now, however, he is back in his sappy "Peter and the Starcatcher" mood, with manic characters creating props in faux Story Theater style and a humor that, except for the raunchy bits and a brief moment of nudity when the robber steals the heroine's clothes, seems more like a show for children than - what's the cliché? - for the child within us all.

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Even without his name on the program, it would be a cinch to pick The Robber Bridegroom as the work of Alex Timbers. Combining the hyperkinetic rowdiness and spirited self-mockery of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson with the larkish low-tech Story Theater tricks of Peter and the Starcatcher, the production imposes the director's signature wink-wink style on the material to a suffocating degree. The show boasts a hardworking cast led by Steven Pasquale, a rousing five-piece band and gorgeous design elements. But this twangy 1975 bluegrass musical comedy based on Eudora Welty's Mississippi fairytale works way too hard at stealing hearts.

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