Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
Bandits, Scheming stepmothers and catchy tunes are at the heart of Roundabout Theatre Company’s latest production, The Robber Bridegroom. The Robber Bridegroom is currently bringing Mississippi Off-Broadway as part of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 50th anniversary season. This hilarious 90-minute musical adventure takes fans into the heart of a good old-fashion folk tale and it’s an adventure you don’t want to miss.
Based on the short story by beloved writer Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom tells the story of Jamie Lockhart, a dangerous, handsome, backwoods rogue who’s a gentleman by day and a conniving bandit by night. When he falls for the beautiful daughter of a wealthy planter, his world and code of ethics are turned upside down. With a book by Tony, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize winner Alfred Uhry and music by Robert Waldman, The Robber Bridegroom delivers high comedy and beautiful music in a short period of time. Directed by Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher), The Robber Bridegroom comes to life for a whole new generation of thrill seekers.
Steven Pasquale delivers an amazing performance as the sly, handsome Jamie Lockhart. Pasquale is mostly known to Broadway audiences for his career-defining turn in The Bridges of Madison County opposite Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara. Pasquale gives an astounding performance as he brings a modern flair to classic character. His beautiful voice breathes new life into Waldman’s incredible music. His comedic performance is something to take notice of as well. A nice change for Pasquale, his comedic timing brings Jamie Lockhart to life. Although he is the headliner of The Robber Bridegroom, Pasquale allows the entire cast to soar. He fits in perfectly with the entire ensemble and allows other actors to take flight.
The true MVP of this production of The Robber Bridegroom is Leslie Kritzer. Kritzer, known for her work in Hairspray and Legally Blonde, shines in the role of Salome, Rosamund’s conniving step-mother. Kritzer receives the biggest laughs in every scene she takes part in. Her comedic timing and sheer love for the role illuminates the Laura Pels Theatre every night. One of her most iconic moments comes when she’s trying to seduce Jamie Lockhart. Her physical comedy allows her to stand out from the rest of the ensemble and deliver a hilarious performance. The role of Salome seems to have been tailor made for Kritzer and it’s a performance any fan of physical comedy will have to witness first hand.
Stage newcomer, Ahna O’Reilly (The Help) shines in the role of Rosamund, Jamie Lockhart’s love interest. The entire show thrives on the comedic nature of the book and O’Reilly makes Rosamund her own. Presented as a sweet, ingénue-like character, she quickly breaks through that mold and shines opposite Pasquale. Greg Hildreth (Cinderella) as Goat and Andrew Durand (War Horse) as Little Harp also leave their mark on this production of The Robber Bridegroom. Each ensemble member brings their own form of comedy to The Robber Bridegroom as they create a hilarious experience for every audience member.
The inventive new production is also filled with an irresistibly catchy bluegrass score that comes to life thanks to the incomparable musicians on stage. The Robber Bridegroom band is made up of five extremely talented musicians who bring the score to life. Between some fiddlers, some guitarist and a pianist, the band isn’t very big, but they loom large in The Robber Bridegroom. Each member showcases their talents and is intricately weaved into the story. They spend most of their time on stage right and never detract from the storytelling. Having the band on stage adds a homely feeling to the intimate production.
Scenic designer Donyale Werle (Peter and the Starcatcher) creates beautiful, simplistic scenery. Similar to her scenic designer on Peter and the Starcatcher, which earned her a Tony Award, the set stays stagnant and doesn’t consist of much, but it plays a major role in the storytelling. Made up of multiple chairs, a stagnant backdrop and several props such as a stuffed turkey, some soap boxes and ladder, The Robber Bridegroom scenery allows the actors to play and audiences to envision the scenery. The simple scenic design adds to the backwoods Mississippi feel the musical thrives on.
Another stand-out element in The Robber Bridegroom is the lighting design by Jeff Croiter (Something Rotten!). Croiter’s lighting design coupled with Werle’s scenic design allow several scenes to stand out. The set for The Robber Bridegroom never changes, the lighting and props help showcase different locations in this hilarious tale. One scene that perfectly illustrates the importance of the scenic and lighting design is when Jamie Lockhart and Rosamund are searching for each other in the woods. The constant movement of the scene and ever changing props and lighting add to the suspense as the audience is on the hunt with the characters.
The Robber Bridegroom is a playful, raunchy tribute to con men, hustlers and everyone in between. This hilarious tale causes fans to chuckle with laughter night after night as they suspend disbelief and travel to Mississippi to hear the infamous tale of Jamie Lockhart and gang. Pasquale shines, the band triumphs as The Robber Bridegroom comes to life for a whole new generation of adventurers.