Monday, March 20, 2023
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The Robber Bridegroom - Hee Haw Hootenanny fairy tale resurrected

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

Let’s put on a show! In a barn! In Mississippi! With a bluegrass band on stage. Intermingle all of them Hew Haw banjos and fiddles with an odd assortment of characters with an off-kilter sense of humor and call it THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM.

The Roundabout Theatre Company has done just that. At the Off-Broadway Laura Pels. Through May 29th.

First seen unsuccessfully on Broadway in 1975 this musical written by Alfred Uhry (book & lyrics) and Robert Waldman (music) just keeps pluggin’ along.

Based on a 1942 novella by Eudora Welty based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale it is now directed by Alex Timbers – a man with a distinct and immediately recognizable style. What was originally funny and imaginative in “Peter and The Starcatcher” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is still funny and imaginative if somewhat frayed around the edges.

In this festive “fairy tale” done with great hootenanny élan the company enters from the rear of the theatre and proceeds at break neck speed to tell the tale of Jamie Lockhart/the bandit of the woods (Steven Pasquale) who “steals with style” - wears a non-too-successful disguise of a couple of berry stains on his cheek which only leads to more confusion in the convoluted plot which doesn’t really matter once you get to stopping your feet along with the infectious tunes and just go along for the ride.

The great news is that Leslie Kritzer as Salome – the stepmother of Rosamund (Ahna O’Reilly - who falls for the Bandit and is wooed by Jamie) – absconds with the show. Steals it right from under its star Mr. Pasquale who despite his powerhouse vocals doesn’t have enough bravado/brio to fully deliver the goods. A bit too serious. When all others around him are in overdrive he appears to be in second gear. Perhaps resting on his previous laurels…

But the other off-the-wall characters make up for it. Including a talking head (Big Harp - Evan Harrington) whom Little Harp (Andrew Durand) totes around in a trunk. And Goat – the village dimwit (Greg Hildreth) – make for merry mayhem.

Down home choreography by Connor Gallagher and a chock-full-of stuff unit set by Donyale Werle are eye catching.

THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM is fast. It’s fun. It has Leslie Kritzer literally glowing on stage with her bling and diamond studded tooth. Or is it gold? No matter - it adds just the right touch to her fabulously comic stand-out sensational performance.

If you are in need of a hootenanny Hee Haw fix – this productions will do nicely. Ninety minutes. No intermission.

NOTE: Why is there no song list in the program?

Photo: Joan Marcus

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