They’re Men, Men in Tights: Robin Hood Review

Hart House kicked off the New Year with Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy last week and by golly, it just might be one of their best productions to date.

A merry take on the familiar legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the Canadian-made Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy lightly resembles Robin Hood Men in Tights and Disney’s Robin Hood, filling in the gaps with witty songs and pop culture references to beautiful things like Star Wars, Diff’rent Strokes and 80s band Foreigner. If the laugh-induced snorting from the woman behind us is any measure, this production is packed full of hilarity that will have people of all ages in stitches from start to finish.

Daniel James proudly donned those tight green tights to be our hero – no, no, legend – Robin Hood. With a cocky air of confidence, James perfectly executed many thieving plans, one of which included him dressing up in a French maids outfit for a flirtatious duet with the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Speaking of the Sheriff, William Foley’s take on the lawful rat of Sherwood Forest had him looking much like Wolverine, but with a strange obsession for furry woodland creatures that resulted in a man-sized chipmunk costume and strange woodland ballet scene that, granted, was hilarious and borderline strange.

Robin’s Merry Men were questionably borderline on their own: Will Scarlet (Kelly McCormack) was a strong, fiery woman determined to win Robin Hood’s affections despite his disinterest; Little John (Andrew Dundass) had a bold display of chest hair, even as he wore a maiden’s dress; Friar Tuck (Benjamin Kyte) was just drunk; Len (Kenton Blythe), Ben (Jeremy LaPalme), Ken (David DiFrancesco) and the Glen’s (Margaret Evraire and Stephanie Schmid) each had their own merry quirks. And then there was Sven (Simon Rainville), we cannot forget about the delightful dingbat Sven, who stood out among all other Merry Men like he was from some other planet… (spoiler alert: he was).

Despite all the antics this group of tight-wearing misfits got caught up in, it was Prince John (Kevin MacPherson) who really caused the biggest reaction from the audience. Eerily similar to the sulking, animated lion in Disney’s Robin Hood, MacPherson’s aloofness, gullibility, and downright oddness created one of the more comical characters we have seen on stage in a while. Every stage exit was a comical bit (Stratford Twirls, Godzilla chasing Japanese tourists) and every interaction created an amusing opportunity for MacPherson to let his freak flag fly.

Granted, the vocal talents weren’t necessarily the strongest, sometimes the band or the background vocals overpowered the songs, but the clever lyrics and genuinely funny story and characters overpowered that small setback.

This tongue-in-cheek musical has only two weeks left, wrapping up on January 26. Get your tickets soon; you don’t want to miss this.

images from official hart house website