Robin Hood and Peter Pan

by Jeff Pitcher on March 1, 2010

 A wonderful Christmas and grateful to be able to see productions of “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” at Carousel Theatre in Vancouver and “Peter Pan” at the Globe Theatre in Regina.

 Robin Hood was directed by Stephen Drover, a fellow Newfoundlander and featured yet another Newfoundlander, Lawrence Haegart as Robin Hood. I’m so impressed with Carole Higgins and the Carousel team – they took the playwright and the play very seriously and then set about having some serious fun. Drove and I had some initial discussions about the concept and it was decided he was going to approach the play in a whimsical fashion aiming at a younger audience. Because the play was to be performed for many school matinees it was important to get the play down to 90 minutes with no intermission! I was skeptical about the cuts I would have to make and remained so through the initial discussions with Drove but after that first reading I was overwhelmed by the sense of “team” that Carole had put together and that Drove was directing. They were open, friendly and very prepared.

 Opening night was full and I had with me 14 friends and family! The production was fast, light and keyed into today’s “pop” culture. Songs and music were modern with a very brave soundtrack designed by Noah Drew – I knew of Noah’s work, we had him designing a show for us at the TNL’s Gros Morne Theatre Festival a few years ago – his work does not disappoint! The set, designed by Al Frisk was beautiful, lush and practical. The main “tree” sat upstage centre and was sturdy enough to not only house actors but allowed them to act up there and make entrances and exits. There were ramparts with doorways DSR and DSL that enabled entrances and exits from above and below – all back-dropped by a brilliant cyc with lights. And the lighting was wonderful. Designed by Jeff Harrison he evoked all the moods that should be there from the leafy Sherwood Forest to the Castle Interior to the dingy Castle Dungeon. The costumes by Barbara Clayden were terrific – especially Justine’s!

 What can I say about that cast?! From the first reading they were so prepared – not only for the story and characters but to have fun, to play with the play. Ryan Beil as Guy of Gisborne was soooo funny. His sense of timing and “play” was awesome. In the Calgary production last year, Sir Guy was played with a French Canadian accent with characters sometimes pronouncing his name ‘Guy’ and sometimes ‘Gee’ which was very funny. Ryan took the joke farther and kept us in stitches throughout. His relationship with the Sherriff of Nottingham was hilarious. The Sherriff played by Josue Laboucane was simply beautiful – his ability to relish in the evilness was great. All the cast worked so well together to create the magic, Ian Butcher as the Knight, Genevieve Flemming as Maid Marian, Larwrence Haegart as Robin Hood, Laura Jaye as Justine the seer, Julie McIsaac as Will Scarlett, Sean Oliver as Alan of Dale, Joshua Reynolds as Little John, who also did the fight direction (which was crazy!) and Allan Zynck – who is always such a treat played Friar Tuck.

 A fine production by a wonderful company. Thank you!

 I also had the opportunity to see Peter Pan. I decided to take my son Jack to the production for a Christmas present. This play was originally commissioned by David Ross at Western Canada Theatre and I wrote it when Jack was only 4 or 5 years old. It has a special place in my heart because of David and Jack and of course J.M. Barrie’s story is simply beautiful. You just have to believe.

 Jack and I flew from a balmy 7 degree Vancouver to a chilly -22 degree (-39 Wind-chill) Regina on December 30th. We dropped our backpacks, went for dinner and sat in for a 7:30 p.m. show. I really didn’t know what to expect – I’ve only seen this production with Fly by Foy where actors fly or with the Alberta Theatre Projects production where the actors flew on a system designed by Sven Johansson. The Globe’s theatre seats around 400 in the round. Ruth Smillie the Artistic Director and Director told me they wouldn’t fly but the sequences would be choreographed on the floor. I was curious and in the end thrilled. Johanna Bundon choreographed the actors and it was simply terrific. The play featured Harry Judge as Peter Pan and Jonelle Gunderson as Tinkerbell – another wonderful first, usually the role is played by a light! Lucy Hill as Wendy and Sarah Mennell as Mrs. Darling and Smee. Brendan Murray as Mr. Darling and Captain Cook and he was absolutely terrific. The rest of the cast included Duncan Fisher, Cole Humeny, Kyle Markewich, Daniel Maslany, and Amy Matysio. The sets and costumes were terrific and designed byKaryn McCallum. Lighting design by Loiuse Guinand and the wonderful music was composed by Allan Rae. Ruth Smille directed – wow. At the end, when Lucy Hill as Wendy stood isolated on stage and talked about childhood and our having to believe – I had  shivers up my spine, as I reached over and hugged Jack just a little tighter. We have to believe. 

 Thank you to the Globe for a great production!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jack March 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm

It was excellent, Dad. =)

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