Robin Hood: The Musical
"Robin Hood: The Musical," at The Franciscan Center
by Eric D. Snider
Published on August 16, 2000
We weren't planning to review "Robin Hood: The Musical," playing at the Franciscan Center through Saturday.
Since this was the Franciscan Center's first show, we figured we'd give them a little "honeymoon" period. Chances are, the first production would show signs of being, well, a first production. I figured I'd go see the show, quietly, and if it was particularly good, write a review. If it wasn't, I wouldn't. No sense giving them bad publicity when they're just getting on their feet; we'll let the first show slide and start reviewing them next time.
Then I started getting e-mails and phone calls from people, asking why we hadn't reviewed the show yet. Additionally, two different people submitted their own glowing reviews. I don't know if any of these folks were connected with the theater or not, but it piqued my interest. If people were insisting on seeing a review in the paper, well, I'll give them one. Apparently, I was missing out on a really great show and should have tried harder to see it sooner.
So I went, and here we go.
I like the fact that a new venue for plays has been established. Unfortunately, the Franciscan Center, which used to be the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, is not an ideal spot. The place is still used for worship services, so no attempt has been made to "theaterize" it. It's un-air-conditioned, and the hard wood benches are extraordinarily uncomfortable (second only to Sundance's outdoor theater, whose wooden rows have the added bonus of being splintery).
One can get past these factors, as long as the shows aren't too lengthy. But consider this: Admission is $12 (with $6 tickets for students, seniors and children, and family passes available). That's more than Hale Center Theater, the Villa Playhouse, or SCERA. Even Provo Theatre Company -- which hires professional actors and directors and has padded theater seats and air-conditioning -- tops out at $12.50.
So you have to wonder, as good as this show may be, is it worth being the most expensive show in the valley?
They seem to have realized that it's not. The night I was there, they were letting pretty much everyone in for free, as long as they promised to tell others about the show later. I'm guessing attendance had been low. And no wonder! With so many theater options in this valley, people aren't going to pay a lot of money unless it's a theater they trust, or a show they already know they like. While I never thought I'd advocate this, from a marketing standpoint, the Franciscan Center should have started with something like "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." You'd pack in the crowds, show them what you can do, and hopefully convince them to come back next time. "Robin Hood: The Musical" is going to be a hard sell anyway, let alone for an unknown theater, and let alone for $12 a ticket.
Now for the actual play, which I promise I have not been avoiding. The songs, by Karrol Cobb, are jaunty and fun, though the lyrics wander all over the spectrum from clever and rhymed-filled ("I'm not amazed the tariff's raised -- the sheriff's merely tariff-crazed!") to overly cute (the song just quoted is called "The Sheriff Raised the Tariff"; there's also a play on the same-sounding "naughty" and "Nottingham"). Tony Cobb's script tells the familiar story well enough, with humor and excitement.
The performance itself, sure enough, seems like the first production at a new theater. Everyone speaks too quietly, except for the Sheriff of Nottingham, who yells everything. The singing voices are generally very good; the acting is just OK, nearly every actor saying his lines straight out to the audience.
Kids should find it fun, resembling as it does an animated Disney film.
The cast wins points for enthusiasm. Eric Blood, Jonny Grey Robinson, Leonard Wilkerson and Brittany Hatch, in the lead roles, show promise.
Bottom line: Should you go see it? Not for $12, no. Two-for-one coupons are readily available, and as I said, they seem to be willing to make a deal with you on the admission price anyway. I say, go and support the show by giving them an audience to perform for. (Nothing's worse than doing a show for no one.) It's worth your time and at least a few dollars to support up-and-coming local talent.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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