Off Broadway Theatre Co. offers a funny take on the tale of ‘Robyn Hood’Feb 01, 2023 04:37PM ● By Katherine Weinstein
Showing that this Maid Marian does not need to be rescued, Alisa Woodbrey strikes a pose with actors Ed Gilmore and Eric Jensen in the Off Broadway Theatre Co. production of “Robyn Hood.” (Photo courtesy of Off Broadway Theatre Co.)
This month, Off Broadway Theatre Co. is bringing back a company favorite to the stage of Draper Historic Theatre, “Robyn Hood.” The classic story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Maid Marian and the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham is given a comical twist with song parodies, improvisation, sword-play, dad jokes and a bit of Utah satire thrown in as well. The rollicking production will be presented Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings Feb. 3-25.
“This was one of our very first shows,” said Off Broadway Theatre Co. Artistic and Technical Director Eric Jensen. “It’s one of the funniest ones.” Jensen originally co-wrote the script with local actor and Channel 4 weatherman Bob Bedore in the 1980s for Layton Arts Council. Bedore is one of the actors who will play the Sheriff of Nottingham as the production is double-cast.
Over the years, the company has presented “Robyn Hood” many times, always changing up the script with new improvisations. “We have a script and we try to follow it,” said Alisa Woodbrey, who plays Maid Marian. “But we have some kings of improv here so you never know what’s going to happen. That’s part of the fun.”
With grim headlines in the news, the company decided to bring back “Robyn Hood” this season. “It’s such a break from reality,” Woodbrey said. “Even in rehearsals we spend most of the time laughing. If we’re laughing, the audience is really going to enjoy it!”
Ane Genessy, who has taken on the role of Maid Marian’s friend, Lady Akbar (“It’s a trap!”) said that the script has “taken pieces of movie Robin Hoods like the Kevin Costner version, ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’ and Errol Flynn and put it all together.”
Like Flynn’s classic take on Robin Hood, there are sword fights in this production. Chris Kennedy learned sword fighting for the stage by taking up a lightsaber years earlier in the Off Broadway Theatre Co. production, “Star Ward.” Kennedy is in the lead role as Robyn Hood. “There are at least three sword fights,” he said. “We go from a basic sword fight to doing a comedy version. We’ll surprise you with our third one which is a little more extravagant.”
Having been involved in Off Broadway Theatre Co. productions since 2010, Kennedy has performed in “Robyn Hood” three times over the years. “It’s different every time. Come to see the first show and the last and see the changes. It’s a fun show for everyone—it has lots of slapstick that kids will love,” Kennedy said.
As the story of “Robyn Hood” takes place in Merry Olde England, the actors have assumed British accents. Ed Gilmore, as the Sheriff of Nottingham, comes by his naturally. The actor grew up in England, in the town of Grimsby, Lincolnshire. Grimsby is a little less than a two-hour drive from Nottingham. He has also performed in other Off Broadway Theatre Co. productions, most recently as the Mayor in “The Frightmare Before Christmas.”
“The Sheriff and his henchmen want to defeat King Richard and take over England,” he explained. Gilmore is having fun with the role. “This is the first time that I’ve gotten to play the villain,” he said. “It’s a lot different. I’m experimenting with different characterizations. You can ham it up a lot more, especially with the fun group we’ve got here.”
All of the actors spoke of how much they enjoy the camaraderie of the cast. “This cast is awesome,” Ane Genessy said. “It’s been such an honor to be a part of it. They know how to play off of each other.”
Ane’s son, Brady Genessy, is playing Will Scarlet, one of the Merry Men. “It’s so fun—it’s great!” he said. “Being goofy is always fun.”
“If you see the actors having fun, you’ll enjoy yourself too,” Gilmore said.
Woodbrey remarked with a smile, “Is there any better way to spend an evening?”
Off Broadway Theatre Co. will present “Robyn Hood” on Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings, Feb. 3-25, on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 S. 900 East. For tickets, visit theobt.org.