The 74th season of the Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) opened with a witty production of “Sherwood the Adventures of Robin Hood.” Directed by Ian Borden, this classic tale of the story of Robin Hood traces the main character, played by Alex Rudd, from infancy to maturity. The production includes many one-liners reminiscent of Monty Python in addition to numerous brilliant allusions to Shakespeare.
Rudd, whose boylike features make him a natural for the role, captivates the audience with his uncanny ability to appear both timid and brave, playboy and romantic. His love interest, Marian, played by Bethany Springs, is a fearless feminist seen throughout the production as the woman in charge.
The opening act of the production begins with Robin Hood about to be hanged for the charge of treason. Friar Tuck asks the audience what they think will happen to Robin Hood before the scene shifts to the birth and early life of Robin.
It is there we meet an immature, womanizing, goofball of a boy, ill equipped as a marksman with a bow. Young Robin is neither serious nor selfless and it isn’t until he is thrust into helping a man who is about to be killed for killing the king’s deer that we begin to see a clever, braver, selfless Robin Hood appear.
The first act introduces Robin’s band of merry men, including Little John, a lovable character played by Nicholas Ducote who delivers his best performance in the castle-scaling scene in Act 2.
By far the most compelling characters of the production are Friar Tuck and Prince John. Tuck, played by Dan Workman, commandeers the stage as both narrator and comedic sidekick to Robin Hood. Workman’s performance is exceptional as he interacts with the audience and his cast members in such a way that leaves you laughing hysterically, even at serious moments in the play’s plot.
However, it is the performance of Jeff Kingsbury, who plays Prince John, that truly makes this production outstanding. Kingsbury’s rendition of his character, a blend of Carol Channing, Paul Lynde with a touch of the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz, is a true masterpiece of acting.
Kingsbury flaunts his effervescence while at times delivering his lines in a sinister fashion.
Kingsbury has an equally excellent supporting cast; Caleb Olson, who plays the evil Sir Guy, is a flawless villain, while his sidekick, Matt Nesmith, who portrays the sheriff, does a remarkable job of being the capricious character the production demands.
Overall, this production of “Sherwood” is entertaining to young and old alike. Swashbuckling adventure alongside endless parody make this production far more than just the story of Robin Hood. Coupled with a quirky musical score that captures the essence of Sherwood and leaves a listener shaking their head in joyful awe, this 102-minute production is a must-see and a delightful way to open the 2019 BHP season.