A Southern-fried Robin Hood/Bluegrass Romp: The Robber Bridegroom at SCT Center Stage

Apr 21, 2017

Springfield Contemporary Theatre presents "The Robber Bridegroom" through May 7 at SCT Center Stage.
Credit (Poster design courtesy Springfield Contemporary Theatre)

Springfield Contemporary Theatre presents the wacky musical "The Robber Bridegroom" April 21-May 7 at Center Stage at Wilhoit Plaza, corner of Pershing and Robberson downtown.  The show, by Alfred Uhry and Robert Waldman, is based on a Eudora Welty novella.  "Many years ago," says director L.J. Summers, "when I was teaching in an Arkansas college, I was teaching a course in 'Southern Women Writers.' And (Welty's) novella was on the curriculum.  So I taught it, loved it. Then in later years I found out there was a musical adaptation and fell in love with the piece. It's taken me several years to find the group I could get together with to produce it."

The show had two short Broadway runs, in 1975 with Kevin Kline and, after some re-writes, in 1976 starring Barry Bostwick. It's set in 18th century Rodney, Mississippi, which actor Seth Dylan Hunt calls "a ghost town" with a lot of folklore, back history--and tall tales--behind it. As L.J. Summers says, one of the major lines that is heard throughout the show is, "Well, we wouldn't stand here and lie in your face!"  Don't count on it, he adds.

The show follows a Robin Hood-like character, the rascally robber of the woods Jamie Lockhart (played by Seth Hunt), as he courts Rosamund, the only daughter of the richest planter in the Mississippi delta.  But basically nothing is as it seems, due to multiple cases of double mistaken identity. Lockhart apparently has both a polite and courtly, and a nasty stick-a-knife-in-your-ribs persona.  And Rosamund, though she's the apple of her father (played by Jeff Carney)'s eye, also happens to be a "pathological liar" according to director L.J. Summers!  Seth Dylan Hunt describes the plot as containing "a lot of American musical theater oopsy-whoopsy mistken identities and confusions."

There's also an evil stepmother, Salome, played by Carol Reinert.  She's the second wife of the rich planter, and she seems to be intent on Rosamund's demise--so there's a definite Snow White/Sleeping Beauty vibe there.  In fact, says L.J. Summers, "Watch closely, 'cause there's a Sleeping Beauty/Snow White joke in there!"  And there's also a hostile talking head-in-a-trunk.  No, we aren't talking about a Señor Wences-style head in a box, either, explains L.J. Summers. "Two of the characters actually co-exist. The meanest robber in the whole Mississippi delta is Little Harp. His big brother is Big Harp, who lost his head while stealing.  And the little brother needs (big brother's) brain because their split identity is the brains of one and the brawn of the other, the body. So he carries the head around in a trunk, and yeah, he's pretty hostile. [Wouldn't you be?] He gets bumped around a lot.  The character is played by David De Priest, and he does the hostility quite well!"  Seth Dylan Hunt adds, "We've really got a fantastic cast--there are a lot of names the Springfield audiences will really know."  Other cast members include Ali Smith and John Emery.

As for the musical score, the advance publicity calls it "bluegrass-infused," with instrumentation consisting of fiddle, guitar, piano and string bass.

Opening Friday April 21st,"The Robber Bridegroom"  will run Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm through May 7 at SCT Center Stage.  Tickets range from $10 to $23 and are available at 831-8001 or www.springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org.