The Robber Bridegroom

The Alfred Uhry/Robert Waldman country-bluegrass musical, based on Eudora Welty's earthy fable about small-town pioneer life in the Deep South, is certainly given a robust outing by a large, enthusiastic ensemble at Topanga Canyon's sprawling outdoor Theatricum Botanicum. Though inventively staged in the style of "story theater" by Ellen Geer, the production's substandard musicianship is glaringly in evidence. The under-volumed, out-of-tune house band underscores the less-than-adequate vocal output of the show's lead performers, considerably lessening the effect of otherwise appealing performances. With all the characters self-narrating, as well as nimbly adapting themselves into whatever animal, prop or set piece is called for to move the story along, this tale of early Americana follows the adventures of a backwoods highwayman (Chris Bultman), whose berry juice-stained face and flowing cape hide his other persona, the handsome Jamie, suitor for the hand of the beautiful and oh-so-ready Rosamund (Dawnnie Mercado). Naturally, Rosamund is much more enamored of the mysterious bandit who robbed and seduced her in the woods than she is of the mannerly Jamie, not knowing they are the same person.

With:
Tom Allard (Clement), Melora Marshall (Salome), Chris Bultman (Jamie), Dawnnie Mercado (Rosamund), Thad Geer (Big Harp), Sheridan Crist (Little Harp), Earnestine Phillips (Goat's Mother), Justin Doran (Goat), Rebecca Davis (Airie), D. Hunter White (Raven).

Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding or hindering all these doings are a group of colorful comic villains, including the grimy Little Harp (Sheridan Crist), the talking head of his decapitated older brother Big Harp (Thad Geer), the near-demented Goat (Justin Doran) and Goat’s Mother (Earnestine Phillips), as well as a mischievous talking Raven (D. Hunter White).

The production possesses a wonderful aura of inspired improvisation through all the story-telling but becomes utterly deflated whenever someone breaks out in song. Bultman’s pleasant but undernourished voice does not project the necessary dash and verve on his barely audible “Steal With Style” and “Love Stolen.” Mercado exhibits more vocal power but is woefully off-pitch with ballads “Rosamund’s Dream,” “Ain’t Nothin’ Up” and “Sleepy Man.”

The most proficient vocalizing comes from Theatricum veteran Marshall, who simply rips through a pair of comical ditties, “Prickle Pear & Lily Bud” and “Kitchen Girl.” And two ensemble numbers manage to create some excitement, the Harp brothers’ anthem, “Two Heads,” and the second act opener, “Poor Tied Up Darlin’. ”

Adding much to the period feel of the production are the costumes of Michelle Love and the props of Jessica Hoffmann.

The Robber Bridegroom

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum; 299 seats; $15 top; Opened July 27, 1997

Production: The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum presents a musical in two acts with book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry (based on the novella by Eudora Welty), music by Robert Waldman. Directed by Ellen Geer. Musical director, Thom Wedge

Creative: choreography, Dani Brown & Corky Dominguez; set, Peter Parkin; costumes, Michelle Love; props, Jessica Hoffmann. Opened July 27, 1997; reviewed Aug. 2; runs through Sept. 13. Running time: 2 hours.

Cast: Tom Allard (Clement), Melora Marshall (Salome), Chris Bultman (Jamie), Dawnnie Mercado (Rosamund), Thad Geer (Big Harp), Sheridan Crist (Little Harp), Earnestine Phillips (Goat's Mother), Justin Doran (Goat), Rebecca Davis (Airie), D. Hunter White (Raven).

More Legit

  • 'Death Becomes Her' Musical in Development

    'Death Becomes Her' Musical in Development for Kristin Chenoweth

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

  • Stagecraft podcast John Leguizamo

    Stagecraft Podcast: John Leguizamo Says He's a 'True Ghetto Nerd'

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

  • The Go-Go's

    Go-Go's Musical 'Head Over Heels,' Produced by Gwyneth Paltrow, Targets Broadway for 2018-19

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

  • Farinelli and the King Broadway

    Broadway Box Office: 'Farinelli and the King' Makes Royal Debut

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

  • Downtown Race Riot review

    Off Broadway Review: Chloë Sevigny in 'Downtown Race Riot'

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

  • Goats review

    London Theater Review: 'Goats'

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

  • Describe the Night review

    Off Broadway Review: Rajiv Joseph's 'Describe the Night'

    Viewing all of this with great interest is the girl’s wealthy father, Clement (Tom Allard), who is anxious to see her safely married, and Rosamund’s stepmother, the evil, sexually rapacious Salome (Melora Marshall), who desperately is trying to get Rosamund killed so she can keep her husband’s money and Jamie’s body for herself. Either aiding […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content