Before I begin this review I will make the disclaimer that I am not a huge fan of pantomime and Monty Python-esqe humor and Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy is reminiscent of these styles. The piece is an original Canadian musical developed by William Foley, Jeremy Hutton, Jesse MacLean, Kevin MacPherson, and Kate Smith for Halifax’s Shakespeare by the Sea.
This production has many strengths including the young cast who are capable singers and charismatic performers. I particularly enjoyed Simon Rainville as the scene stealing Sven.
The musical score by Kieran MacMilland and Jeremy Hutton is entertaining and upbeat and certainly stands up to established musicals. The writing is solid and includes several clever witticisms.
Scott Penner’s excellent and textured set and Melanie McNeill’s colourful costume design are integral to the pretty picture that was created on stage. One of the most impressive aspects of the show was the overall choreography designed by Ashleigh Powell. This is a large cast working in a small playing space, I can only imagine the hours of work it took to make the movement look flawless and it does. The expertly crafted fight sequences by Jeremy Hutton are also impressive. Actor Daniel James, who plays the title role, had multiple fights to manage and he does so with great aplomb.
This show could have easily had half an hour of the running time cut off. I found it lagged in both acts and a shorter running time definitely would have tightened the show. My biggest beef was how the characters were played. Director Jesse MacLean had the actors go wildly over the top, which suited the style, but the performances still must be rooted in reality. The performers in this production played the style, rather than creating real people who are madly eccentric and allowing the humor to emerge from that. Because of this, I found it difficult to go along for the ride.
The cast is clearly enjoying themselves and the audience seemed to eat it up; there was much hooting and hollering throughout. Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy definitely has a homegrown charm and I hope it continues to be shaped because I believe an even stronger version of this show exists.