Robin Hood Review - a Piccolo Panto for the Whole Family

Robin Hood (Berner Taylor)


The operative words here are "Piccolo Panto." With this production of Robin Hood, Evanston's Piccolo Theatre tailors the English Panto to its wacky, high-energy style.
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Panto, a winter edition of musical comedy theater, reinvents familiar lore by adding a little vaudeville here,  loosely connected but somewhat relevant contemporary references there and by encouraging audience participation everywhere to create a raucous, noisy entertainment.
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Just to set the tone for this special evening of audience-participation theater, during the obligatory announcement to turn off cell phones, we were cautioned that if our phone rang, one of the cast members just might answer it and speak to the caller. That gave us our first clue.
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Then we were coached to shout "Dude!" whenever the Merry Men came on stage. And when the villain entered stage left--the "sinister" side--we booed.  We also
helped out.  When someone was approaching our heroes form the back, we gave warning, "He's behind you!" We praised and lauded Robin for his daring and manly prowess (even though he was clearly played by a pretty young woman.

 

Robin Hood (Berner Taylor)


 We even wolf-whistled a beautiful woman (who looked a lot like a man.)

Bess Flatbottom (Andrew Roberts)


Add to that the forest fairies with their magic book:

The Fairies (Vanessa Hughes and Amy Gorelow)


And I think you'll agree the cast looks like some motley crew:

Fairy(Vanessa Hughes), Robin Hood (Berner Taylor), Fairy (Amy Gorelow), Bess Flatbottom (Andrew Roberts)



That doesn't even scratch the surface of the convoluted--but oh, so hilarious, plot!
Robin’s cousin Scarlet is desperate to join the Merry Men. Afterall, Robin's reputation has even attracted some paparazzi.  Lucky for her (and us), Scarlet  finds a magical book and starts casting spells that disrupt everything--even Robin's archery prowess. Pandemonium ensues and Robin... Uh oh. I can't tell you any more! It'll ruin the delicious surprises.
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But let me tip you off to some deftly planted intriguing "don't miss" touches. Pay attention to the costumes. All the best dressed villains will be looking for a black patent leather suit like the one worn by villain Sir Guy of Gisbourne. Lady Gaga will undoubtedly be googling the best designers to find out who created Bess Flatbottom's stunning, one-of-kind look.
 

Bess Flatbotton (Andrew Roberts) and Robin Hood (Berner Taylor)


And there's the colander helmet.  And the foam leg of mutton. The clever cow.  And a Honey Bun franchise in Sherwood Forest. Keep alert for the incredible disappearing act.  See if you can tell how it was done. What did I miss?  Tell me.  I'll update my review with your observations.  Just send them to
[email protected]

Really.  Go.  Take the kids.  Take anyone who needs a good laugh. For your helping of holiday cheer, this is the genuine article!                                                 

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Piccolo Theatre presents Robin Hood: The Panto!
By Jessica Puller.
Music by Tyler Beattie.
Directed by Glenn Proud & Brianna Sloane.
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Engagement runs until Dec 19, 2010. Days & Times:
Fri at 7pm, Sat at 3pm & 7pm, Sun at 3pm. _________________________________________________                               
Location: Evanston Arts Depot, 600 Main St., Evanston
Tickets: $25 for Adults, $20 for Seniors, $10 for Students,
Family Ticket $50 (2 adults, 2 children), call for group rates.
Call for reservations 847-424-0089 or order online
 www.piccolotheatre.com
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Photos:Courtesy of Piccolo Theatre


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