Friday, May 2, 2014

REVIEW: "The Adventures of Robin Hood" Made Merry by Prairie Ground Drama

Venture out among the trees of Sherwood Forest and enjoy an evening of lighthearted adventure as students with the Prairie Ground Drama Club, under the direction of Prairie High School Drama Instructor Claire Verity, light up the stage in "The Adventures of Robin Hood."

The family-friendly, humorous adventure, with sword-fighting scenes and witty characters will follows the schemes and ploys of this robbing hood as he leads his merry men and his dear Maid Marian on his quest to rid the rich of their wealth and redistribute it to the poor. (Sounds like a democrat to me.)

The play, by Larry Blamire, is part parody, part outrageous farce with a good measure of slapstick and swordplay thrown in.

The Cast

Little John (Ronnie McPherson) and
Friar Tuck (Tyler Wanke)
Why is it that the Battle Ground School District has such strong theater talent? Is it something in the water? I see a LOT of community theater and it often pales in the shining limelight of these amazingly talented kids. The good news is that once they graduate they can be siphoned in to the community scene.

The cast includes many of the talented individuals we've come to enjoy over the last few years. There are also a few newer faces that rise to the occasion.

Though most played their roles broadly--sometimes quite melodramatically--it worked. Caricature generally ruled the night and added to the humor intended by director Claire Verity.

The play is primarily carried by the male cast and all the female cast but the lead Maid Marian (played aptly by Ashlee Waldbauer, no surprise there) are background characters. However, Alexa Millage-Fox (as Meg) and Brittany Foley (new to the stage, deftly playing the Prioress) were standouts. Fox especially threw herself into the role (I expect she'll be hoarse by the week's end).

Will Gamwell (Jared Lingle), Marian Harper (Ashlee Waldbuaer)
and The Sheriff of Nottingham (Tristan Decker)
Austin Foley as the dashing leading man, Robin Hood, was excellent--just the right amount of suave and chauvinism. The best scenes of the play are the ones he plays with Waldbauer. Their tit for tat and playful romance is good chemistry.

While those mentioned were exceptionally good, really all the cast did well. However the standouts were many as well. Jared Lingle as Will Gamwell was a hoot, Tristen Decker as The Sheriff of Nottingham was excellent, Sean Poteet as the Bishop was a gas, Matthew Dougal as King John was absolutely glorious, Ronnie McPherson as Little John was marvelous, Skyler Verity as Alan-a-Dale was great, and Tyler Wanke as Friar Tuck was skillfully amusing. Also worthy of mention was Stephen Whitlock as the whiny Much and Chris LaValley as the very French assassin Guy.

Austin Foley as the charming Robin Hood on the
back of the witty Tyler Wanke as Friar Tuck.
I was especially taken by Decker's take on Nottingham; very much in the Tim Curry mode. And Poteet was just a whole lot of fun. However, I think Dougal was best. I just loved what he brought to the character. But everyone had their great moment like Skyler Verity's insane ninja war cry and the meltdown between Decker and Dougal, the tension between Waldbauer and Fox, and on and on. Just too much fun for all.

The Craft

The production's look was good overall--especially considering the club is trying to keep costs down in order to save for wireless mics. The set's drops and fly-in pieces were nice. The major drawback was the mix of real tree cuts with painted fantasy trees.

The lighting (by Claire Verity, who also did the scenic design) was exceptional, not a flaw I could see. I liked the cues and the colors. Costumes (by Anna Stickney, also the Stage Manager) were also quite good. The swordplay was excellent--nicely designed by Brandon McFarland, and executed by the cast with precision and conviction. The Sound Design (by Nick Perry) was also a delight.

Some of the many faces in the cast, including Skyler Verity.
I haven't heard so much laughter in one place for quite some time. The presentation was really funny and so much fun. The audience had a merry time and you will, too.

The night begins with dancing and dueling in a pre-show medieval faire you won't want to miss. The dance choreography by Ashlee Waldbauer and the fight design by McFarland were both enjoyable.

Remaining show dates are May 2, 3 and May 8, 9 and 10, all 7 p.m. at the Prairie High School Theater, 11500 NE 117th Ave., Vancouver, Wash. DO come early (doors open at 6:30) for the Medieval Faire proceeding the show. Tickets at the door or:

To the right one final photograph.

By Gregory E. Zschomler
Photos, provided, by Michael Verity

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