Merry Men Reach Middle Age in Meehan and Charnin's Robin Hood Musical, Premiering in Seattle Dec. 10-23

News   Merry Men Reach Middle Age in Meehan and Charnin's Robin Hood Musical, Premiering in Seattle Dec. 10-23 Sherwood Forest, of "Robin Hood" legend fame, is reimagined by Broadway masters starting Dec. 10 with the world premiere of the musical Robin Hood: The Legend Continues, at Village Theatre outside Seattle.
Shelly Burch and Hugh Hastings in Robin Hood: The Legend Continues
Shelly Burch and Hugh Hastings in Robin Hood: The Legend Continues Photo by Dan Achatz

Penned by composer Peter Sipos and Tony Award-winners Thomas Meehan (book) and Martin Charnin (direction and lyrics), the show — about the now-middle-aged "merry men" who used to steal from the rich and give to the poor — is part of Village Theatre's "Village Originals" series of new work in development.

In the conceit, Robin and his pals of Sherwood Forest are 20 years older. Billed as "a rollicking romp," the musical incorporates the children of the famous merry men. The kids are "as ribald and rabble-rousing" as their parents once were.

"Disguise and intrigue, knockabout humor and swashbuckling adventure — and rousing music — make this a wise, witty, wonderful take on a beloved tale," according to Village Theatre production notes.

The cast features Hugh Hastings as Robin, and Shelly Burch as Marian. The set and lighting design is by Alex Berry, costumes are by Deborah Skorstad. Dec. 16 is the official opening.

The theatre's far-from-New York location is ideal for testing a musical quietly. The creative team will learn more about the show during the run and be able to address refinements. Village Theatre is in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Performances continue to Dec. 23. Charnin wrote lyrics for Annie (for which he and Charles Strouse won a Best Score Tony Award) and Two by Two, among other shows. Meehan won a Tony Award in 2001 for co-writing the libretto for The Producers and a 2003 Tony for co-writing the libretto for Hairspray (and also won the Tony for Annie). He is also a contributor to the new Broadway musical, Bombay Dreams. Sipos and Charnin previously worked on a musical version of the Joan of Arc story.

Music direction is by Gabriel Kahane, David Maddux. Fight choreographer is David Boushey.

The cast of Robin Hood: The Legend Continues will feature Katherine Strohmaier as Elizabeth, Allan Barlow as King John, Greta Bloor as Queen Isabella, Brian Higham as Will Scarlett, Brian Earp as Will Scarlett Jr., Dough Fahl as Big Little Jonn, Ian Lindsay as Friar Tuck Jr., Paul Klein as Alan a Dale, Don Collins as Basingstoke, Frank Kohel as Phink, Stephen Grenley as Nottingham and Ty Willis, Allen Galli, Eric Hartley, Charity Parenzini, Tyler Rhoades, Maggie Stenson, Mo Brady, Harry Turpin.

After two readings of the script, and after some script and score tweaks, the authors "were ready for a developmental production," Village announced earlier this year. "The team felt very strongly about the need to get the show up on its feet in front of an audience."

Charnin said in a statement, "We were missing that last collaborator — the final collaborator is the audience. We can create three of the walls — back stage, stage right, and stage left — but that fourth wall can only be created by the audience."

NETworks executive producer Ken Gentry previously confirmed his company was interested in shepherding the show in the future, perhaps to a touring life. He also expressed interest in Charnin's reconception of the musical Two by Two, which similarly had an out-of-the-way test production this fall in the hills of Tennessee.

Village Theatre presents Robin Hood at First Stage is at 120 Front Street North in Issaquah, WA.

Tickets $16-$20. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM. For information, call (425) 392-2202 or visit www.villagetheatre.org.

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Steve Tomkins is artistic director of Village Theatre. Brian Yorkey is associate artistic director.

Author and Director Martin Charnin (center) with cast members of <i>Robin Hood: The Legend Continues</i>
Author and Director Martin Charnin (center) with cast members of Robin Hood: The Legend Continues Photo by Dan Achatz
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