I’m George Walker for WFIU Arts
The Cardinal for Kids’ production of Robin Hood begins with the cast playing a mixed quintet of beggars so effective that I was reaching for my wallet. My money was saved only as they moved back into Erin Gautille’s imaginative set and began to discuss their plight and the possibility that there might or might not be a Robin Hood. Director Kate Galvin’s cast is quite the cream of the IU Theatre program with two MFAs, two grads and one rising senior.
Needless to say there was a Robin Hood and Devin May made an athletic and noble figure as the beloved outlaw who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. The rich, aka the possessors of the small fraction of the upper one percent of the world’s wealth were ably represented by Jay Hemphill as the usurping Prince John. The prince appeared in a bath tub of gold coins accompanied by a plastic duck. Adults in the audience knowingly clucked as they remembered the bathing governor in “Blazing Saddles” and his froggie. Hemphill also appeared as Robin’s stalwart Will Scarlet.
The versatile Scott Van Wye was the prince’s Sheriff of Nottingham alternately confidentally scheming and sniveling over his failures in his battles with the lord of the forest. Wye also appears as King Richard, but he’s so busy with the Sheriff’s various schemes and plots that there’s little time for other roles. Glynnis Kunkel-Ruiz was very funny as the sheriff’s befuddled assistant and quite the robust figure as the Little John who joustingly tosses Robin Hood off a bridge and into a stream.
Courtney Relyea-Spivak was the Maid Maria who quite bewitches Robin Hood and nearly bests him in the archery match that is part of the play’s excitement. However, I was even more charmed by her as the manly Much of Robin’s band.
Cardinal for Kids is presenting children’s theatre veteran Greg Banks setting of the Robin Hood tale. It’s an active and fast moving tale with plenty of varied costumes by Becky Underwood, dramatic lighting effects by Bridget Williams and musical and sound effects by Andrew Hopson. The fight scenes choreographed by Brian Cowden were especially effective. All in all, I’d guess that elementary aged children are Banks’ target.
Saturday afternoon’s children were a bit younger, but they and their adults responded enthusiastically as Much led us in robust calls of “Long Live King Richard” and they generally seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show.
By the way the as the drama closed, the cast once again appeared as those darned beggars and once again I was too late with my wallet. Fortunately there was an opportunity at the door to offer alms to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.
The Cardinal for Kids production of “Robin Hood” plays through May 20 in the Whikehart Auditorium of the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker