Dallas Theater Center: Hood, The Robin Hood Musical Adventure

Nick Bailey and Ashley Park perform in Dallas Theater Center's world premiere of 'Hood, the Robin Hood Musical Adventure'

Karen Almond

Dallas Theater Center: Hood, The Robin Hood Musical Adventure at

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There's been an extra bounce in the Dallas Theater Center since it won the 2017 Tony Award for best regional theater. You can feel it amplifying the joy in the sunny world premiere of 'Hood: The Robin Hood Musical Adventure,' an often intoxicating riff on the story of the outlaw who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. The concept by Douglas Carter Beane, a five-time Tony-nominated playwright, is that contemporary actors in a barn use costumes and props they find and make to play the roles. Add that to the upbeat score by Lewis Flinn and the innovative use of puppets, designed by Obie Award-winner James Ortiz and Stefano Brancato, and you have an homage to the inventiveness and power of theater to inspire. In fact, the show, which clearly has Broadway ambitions, but as of opening night faltered in the opening scene. The show currently begins with multiple actors talking over each other, giving a history of the Robin Hood legend in different generations, with the implication that it's now time for a modern one. That's an appeal to the brain. If we look back to Pippin, which made a powerful impact by building tension between actor and part in a play within a play, a connection that shows how the performers are transformed by their parts could be an additional hook to the heart. Nick Bailey brings earnest charm to a member of the troupe who gets thrust into the role of the entitled Robert, the sheltered young Earl who flees to Sherwood Forest after tyrannical Prince John seizes his lands and threatens his life. There he pines for Marian (a witty and lyrical Ashley Park) and becomes aware, for the first time, of the suffering in the kingdom when he meets an old friend, now beggar, Meg (Alysha Umphress, who brings eloquent depth to pivotal songs) and takes pity on the desperate Much (a touching Billie Aken-Tyers). The Sheriff of Nottingham (exquisitely sung by Austin Scott) is Robin's nemesis, currying favor with Prince John to get permission to wed Marian. More could be done with the dichotomy epitomized by the Sheriff and Robin as the story explores the way people, like the merry men (and women!) who flock to Robin's side, seek the vision and courage to be the hero or heroine they could be. After all, both Robin and the Sheriff love the same woman and see the world equally clearly in terms of haves and have-nots. They just come to different conclusions, with the Sheriff determined to be one of the haves and Robin determined to help the have-nots have a chance. The deceptively simple wooden set by Tony Award-winner John Lee Beatty boasts a second open story that gives plenty of room for swashbuckling swordplay, with space between slats that Philip Rosenberg suffuses with an enchanting lighting palette. The ensemble's exuberant dance moves, choreographed by Robert Bianca and Joey Pizzi, are enhanced by an onstage band that interacts spiritedly with the performers. There are too many delicious details to name (and that shouldn't be given away). Among the intriguing choices: using the same words "This machine kills fascists" that Woody Guthrie did on the guitar of songwriter Alan A'dale (the appealing Ian Ferguson). Beane, who reinvented Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella for its successful Broadway run in 2013, has an impressive track record; he also collaborated with Flinn for Give It Up!, the 2010 world premiere at Dallas Theater Center that went to Broadway as Lysistrata Jones in 2011. Hood: The Robin Hood Musical Adventure is remarkably far along for a world premiere. Like Robert contemplating embracing his inner Robin, it's a charmer on its way to being great.

The world’s sexiest thief. History’s great lover. The renegade hero that made redistributing wealth seem cool. Here is finally the real story of the disgraced nobleman, forced into the wilderness who seeks revenge and reclaims his great love. Five-time Tony®-nominated playwright Douglas Carter Beane reunites with Lewis Flinn and return to Dallas Theater Center to bring to life this hilarious and stirring new musical adventure. A world premiere musical event.
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