Sierra Repertory Theatre’s The Robber Bridegroom, a “country and southern” comedy, steals its way on to the Fallon House stage Friday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 25.
Inspired by the Grimm fairy tale of the same name and based on Eudora Welty’s 1942 novella, the musical takes place in late 18th-century America. As the show opens, the cast appears and sings of their ancestors along the Natchez Trace, Mississippi, and the story that’s about to unfold. Clemment Musgrove, a rich planter, is looking for an inn in the wild river town of Rodneys Landing. A gentleman robber, Jamie Lockhart, plans to relieve Musgrove of his treasure, as does the wily Harp Gang (brothers Big Harp, Little Harp and a talking raven). Lockhart succeeds in getting rid of the Harps and gaining Musgrove’s trust.
The story continues with Musgrove’s beautiful daughter Rosamund, his second wife and Rosamund’s step-mother, Salome, a local simpleton named Goat, and the Bandit of the Woods (a disguised Jamie Lockhart). Innuendo, mistaken identities and wacky hijinks lead to the fairy tale ending.
In its original run on Broadway in 1975, The Robber Bridegroom was nominated for two Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical, and seven Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Book of a Musical, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music. In its revival run in 2016, The Robber Bridegroom was nominated for eight Drama Desk Awards, again including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Book of a Musical, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music. Between its two incarnations, the show launched the careers of Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone and Barry Bostwick, the last of whom won that season’s Tony for Best Leading Actor in A Musical.
SRT Artistic Director Scott Viets is directing and choreographing the show, alongside co-director Jerry Lee, who recently starred in SRT’s State Fair.
Viets said the musical – with the only Bluegrass score written for Broadway – has been one of his favorites since college. Its score is along the lines of Mark Twain’s A Musical, A Mystery and A Marriage and Shipwrecked.
“It is Story Theater, a rollicking romp and not a typical book show,” Viets said. “The actors tell the story creatively, playfully, not too seriously. It is fantastical, organic, bawdy, loose fun, and it has a smaller cast, which I enjoy working with, and many of the cast I’ve worked with before.”
SRT favorite Becky Saunders (Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, Church Basement Ladies, Six Dance Lessons) portrays the wicked step-mother, Salome.
“She is so comical, so versatile, she is so different from show to show,” Viets said.
Elizabeth McMonagle (The Spitfire Grill, Spelling Bee) plays the daughter, Rosamund, and Jamie Lockhart is played by SRT newcomer Matthew Helfner.
Helfner currently lives in Los Angeles and is fresh off the 2015-16 national tour of Mamma Mia. Greg Pragel and David Rodrigues of Oakdale appear for the first time on SRT’s stage as Little Harp and Big Harp, respectively. Other featured roles are to be played by State Fair alumni Anna Lynn Atwater, Lucas Michael Chandler, Katherine Cooper and Mark Enea.
“The characters in The Robber Bridegroom are driven purely from selfishness,” Lee said. “They live such desperate lives, so watching these extravagant characters work to achieve their goals is what makes this musical exceptionally funny. What I know SRT audiences will enjoy most is seeing so many familiar faces (and some new ones) behave so badly.”
Guest set designer is Randall A. Enlow (Pump Boys & Dinettes, The Winter Wonderettes, Damn Yankees). SRT resident designers round out the talented production team: Musical Director Mark Seiver, Musical Orchestration by Sean Paxton, Lighting Designer Mike Sali, Costume Designer Rebecca Meredith, Properties Designer Matt Sweetland and Stage Manager Douglas G. Brennan.
Viets added, “Our season is so fun because every year we offer audiences the chance to discover something new, and this season that show is The Robber Bridegroom.”
The Robber Bridegroom opens Friday, Sept. 2 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 25, with performances Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at either 2 or 7 p.m. A special “talk back” performance is Thursday, Sept. 15. Tickets range from $30 to $37, with senior, student and child discounts available. The show is rated PG-13.
For tickets and information, visit www.sierrarep.org or call the Box Office at 209-532-3120.