Robin Hood and his Merry Men are on their way to Sacramento State. But this Robin is less an outlaw and more a tree-hugging redistributor of wealth.
“Robin Hood” features Jessica Windhaus as Maid Marian, Gavin Sellers as Grok the Jester, Brent Bianchini as Robin Hood, and Zane Boyer as Prince John.
“Robin Hood,” written by Don Nigro and directed for Sac State by Professor Michelle Felten, is a slightly skewed version of the classic tale and has performances in the University Theatre at 8 p.m. Nov. 28-Dec. 1 and Dec. 7-8; 2 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9; and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6.
In this interpretation, wicked Prince John, an avid tennis player, wants to cut down Sherwood Forest for tennis courts, an arms factory and a slaughterhouse as he desperately tries to understand his jester, who speaks a language of his own. Meanwhile, Robin Hood promotes the benefits of the forest and tries to elude the “dark monk” (who may be death) at the same time he is persuading Maid Marian to “go green.”
It’s a mix of topical issues, farce, physical comedy and bawdy humor. “There’s a lot of slapstick comedy,” says freshman Zane Boyer, who plays Prince John. “It’s absolutely outrageous.”
“Robin Hood” has a very physical staging, featuring swordplay, acrobatic fights and pratfalls. To help the actors prepare, Felten brought in San Francisco’s Slater Penney, an Emmy Award-winning performing artist and clown with circus training and physical theater expertise.
“It was exciting to have him participate and have the students exposed to his many talents,” says Felten.
“We worked with him 15 to 20 hours,” says Brent Bianchini, who plays Robin Hood. “That was a blast and a great learning experience for us.”
Felten also has two students serving as assistant directors. Senior Richard Stiles combined his knowledge of martial arts with the expertise of dancers in the cast to help choreograph the fights. “We put a lot of those backgrounds into the fights,” he says.
Rachel Williams is the production’s script expert and keeps the actors on track with their characters. “I make sure all the characters are consistent and that they all have motivated actions and are not just up there being funny without any reasons behind their actions,” she says.
Everyone has pitched in to make this “Robin Hood” a unique experience for audience and cast alike. “There is a great collaboration of talent on the stage,” says Bianchini.
Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. performances are $8 general admission and $5 for children. All other performances are $12 general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 for children. Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323.
For more information, visit www.csus.edu/dram or call (916) 278-6368. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.
– Craig Koscho