BWW Reviews: ROBBER BRIDEGROOM Needs to Steal From Slapstick Classics
The only thing more disappointing than a show that completely bombs is one that is astoundingly good in some areas but misses the mark in others. That's exactly the case with The Robber Bridegroom, now playing at the Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St. Edwards University. While the show is visually stunning, the music tuneful and complex, and some performances are wonderful, the show misses many an opportunity to land a joke.
The rarely produced 1975 musical puts a Western spin on the Grimm's Brothers fairy tale of the same name. The story focuses on the titular robber, Jamie Lockhart, who falls for the beautiful Rosamund after a chance encounter in the woods. Unfortunately, Jamie has decided to marry the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. What he doesn't know is that Rosamund and his fiancé are one in the same. Rosamund's evil stepmother and a pair of thieving brothers also stand in Jamie's way.
The ridiculous characters (one of which is simply a head in a box) and countless episodes of narrow escapes and mistaken identity require a heavy dose of irreverent humor to pull off well. The same can be said of Alfred Uhry's weak and clunky book; a sense of fun can mask some of the piece's shortcomings. Unfortunately, The Robber Bridegroom takes itself too seriously when it should consider itself a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon.
The cast is full of strong singers and dancers, but many fail to create characters that make us laugh. The exceptions are Meredith McCall as Rosamund's stepmother, Salome, and Owen Ziegler as Salome's dimwitted henchman, Goat. McCall plays Salome as the quintessential comedic villain, a vain, scheming woman who barely conceals her disdain towards her stepchild. When McCall is on stage, the show comes alive, and her big number "The Pricklepear Bloom," stops the show cold. Ziegler's meak, quiet, simple take on Goat is infectious as well.
The look and sound of the show hits its mark as well. Director/Choreographer Danny Herman fills the show with energetic and lively square dance numbers, and the costumes by Susan Branch Towne are all beautifully detailed. The bluegrass style band, under the direction of Susan Finnigan, sounds spectacular.
If all the elements of The Robber Bridegroom matched its best elements, it would be a memorable treat. Sadly, The Robber Bridegroom is fairly robbed of personality.
THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM plays The Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St. Edwards University now thru April 26, 2015. Performances are Thursday - Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. For tickets and information, please visit www.stedwards.edu/theatre