Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Robber Bridegroom **

It’s unfortunate that I saw the Roundabout revival of this 1975 musical so soon after seeing the wonderful Hadestown. The afterglow of the latter show made this one seem even cruder and more insipid by comparison. This adaptation of a novella by Eudora Welty, with a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and music by Robert Waldman (40 songs for "Captain Kangaroo'), has been given the full Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher, Here Lies Love) treatment, abetted by Donyale Werle’s over-cluttered set and Emily Rebholz’s attention-grabbing costumes. Everything is geared to being relentlessly entertaining and the effort shows. A Mississippi folk tale of a gentleman by day/robber by night turns into little more than an animated cartoon set to loud bluegrass music. The usually excellent Stephen Pasquale (The Bridges of Madison County, Far from Heaven) does not get much chance to show his strengths and the always enjoyable Leslie Kritzer (Legally Blonde, School of Rock) is ill-used. Ahna O’Reilly is lovely and spirited as the ingenue. The other hard-working cast members do their best with roles untouched by subtlety. Maybe I just got up on the wrong side of bed, but I found the entire production tedious. It was a long 90 minutes and I had a headache when it was finally over. 

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