BECOMING ROBIN HOOD World Premiere at Berkeley Playhouse
WE ARE ALL ROBIN HOOD, MAKE THIS NEW MUSICAL PART OF YOUR SUMMER LIVE THEATRE TO SEE.
Review by Vince Mediaa
There are heroes in the making this summer at the Julia Morgan stage in a swashbuckling new musical BECOMING ROBIN HOOD. The Berkeley Playhouse World Premiere production is now on stage through June 25th. The comedy musical is created by Laura Marlin and Phil Gorman, local artists with longtime ties to the Berkeley Playhouse. Ten years in the making, the creators are two local artists who have put their own spin on this classic tale of good vs evil. The musical was first workshopped with youth actors in Berkeley Playhouse’s 2022 YouthStage Season and later adapted for this MainStage production. This production is performed by both adult and youth actors.
Directed by the clever Kimberly Dooley she says “I love how this show celebrates community. It's full of wit, charm and hilarity, and also explores friendship, honor, and how important it is for young people to find their own unique voice and their own way of making the world better.” This new musical includes music director Michael Patrick Wiles, and is choreographed by Cat Reyes. The Marlin and Gorman’s musical include several new characters to the Robin Hood fable; Wren played by the lively Tosca Maltzman. The unlikely hero Cooper, played by the marvelous Romelo Urbi and Phoebe played by the terrific Erika Cospin, do their best to take on the roles of outlaws and rebels. While the iconic characters of every Robin Hood tale; Friar Tuck played by local favorite Billy Raphael, The Sheriff played the incredible DC Scarpelli and Little John played by the ideal Paul Plain add to the original story.
The company opens the two hour musical with the song “Old Stories” that features the entire cast where we meet Cooper. A young man more passive and lanky to be a hero or a bandit played by Urbi. Alongside Cooper is Wren and Phoebe, two Nottenham women from the same village that set up a festival to honor Maid Marian and both sing “Maid Marian Festival”. This version of the Sherwood Forest story explores community and what makes a hero. The citizens of Nottingham are stressed under the rule and tyranny until a few unlikely characters take on the identity of a heroic outlaws who try to share the wealthy's riches.
Scarpelli is a highlight in this story who steals the show with his evil wit. The Sheriff is featured in the pop song “Welcome To Tyranny” that stops the show with its full throttle high energy choreography by Reyes. Alongside the Sheriff are his two thug guards played by the impressive Nico Jaohico who plays Smudgestick and the snide Pennyroyal played by the super Christian Arteaga. In a forest ruled by greed, the villagers rise up and take aim against the rich Nottingham Sheriff. The splendid vocals of Urbi as Cooper sings his first act solo "What Woud It Take to be Hero" the theme to his role as he discovers Robin Hood. This new story makes it clear that anyone can be a hero and shoot a bow and arrow with pride.
During the festival the misguided Cooper is chosen to take on the Sheriff along with the help of Friar Tuck and Little John. Urbi, Plain and Raphael show off their strong voices in the song “Merry Men” along with the keen Kacie Jean Hennesy as Moxy who makes sure Cooper's arrows hit the target. The yet to be named merry men travel the forest as Cooper learns to wear a green hoodie. To hide his identity the company sings “Robber In A Hood”. Cooper deals with his new banner as they accidentally take some goods from wealthy travelers. Cooper becomes a robber in a hood or “Robin Hood.” Billy Rapheal as Friar Tuck sings “Is It Right To Steal” with the merry men and the guards, as always Rapheal shows off this amazing tenor voice. Copsin as Phoebe sings a wonderful solo “A Different Kind” that brings her rebel task to be a hero.
Wren and Phoebe gather the villagers to take on the Sheriff in the second act Maltzman, Cospin and Urbi sing “Triangles Plight". The graceful Melinda Meeng plays Aunt Ivy, a senior member of the Village that the girls respect. She sings the lovely song “You Are Enough” with Uncle played by the distinguished Peter Budinger and Maltzman. One of the Sheriff's guards Smudgestick is convinced by Phoebe to change sides, both Jaochico and Cospin have the perfect pre romance charm in the roles. Music director Wiles and his six member orchestra perform songs ranging from styles including big band, jazz, funk, blues and anthems. The many songs take on themes such as bullying, whether it’s right to steal, and the value of teamwork. The main heart of this new story is what it means to be a hero. It is clearly in the anthem “Together We Can Be A Hero” that ends the story.
The cast of 27 features two younger teen ensembles the Sherwood and Nottingham casts that fill out some of the feature roles including Peewee and Bramble. The bright Village and Nottingham square direct from story book pages is designed by Sarah Phykitt. At times the stage glows red under Cameron Pence lighting design as the evil Sheriff and his crew enter. The many props including scrolls, bow and arrows are designed by Patricia Bilello, along with the many green hoodies and bright red and black costumes for the Sheriff created by Ashley Renee. Wigs and makeup designed by Jennifer Marie Frazie included a full head of hair for Scarpelli. The fun fight scenes are directed by Mary Cait Hogan and the busy sound designed by Joshua Price.
In the end the wave of green hoodies really defines that this Robin Hood is only part of the community of hero’s. The show still needs some fine tuning, but some of the memorable songs including the hit “Tyranny” and “Together We Can Be A Hero” are well written and staged. I have to say this new musical includes one of the best villains to hate and love; DC Scarpelli makes BECOMING ROBIN HOOD a welcome summer musical not to be missed. Besure to bring your own green hoodie, you could be Robin Hood as well.
Berkeley Playhouse Presents
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF:
BECOMING ROBIN HOOD
Created by Laura Marlin and Phil Gorman
Book by Laura Martin
Music and Lyrics by Phil Gorman
Directed by Kimberly Dooley
Music Director Michael Patrick Wiles
Choreographer Cat Reyes
Founding Artistic Director Elizabeth McKoy
Must Close June 25th
PERFORMED AT THE JULIA MORGAN CENTER
COLLEGE AVE, BERK CA
Runs Two hours with one intermission
Tickets at berkeleyplayhouse.org
Photos by Ben Krantz Studio.
PAY WHAT YOU CAN THURSDAY JUNE 8th 7pm - CASH ONLY - MINIMUM 5.00
Tosca Maltzman as Wren
Romelo Urbi as Cooper
Erika Cospin as Phoebe
DC Scarpelli as Sheriff
Melinda Meeng as Aunt Ivy / Villager
Peter Budinger as Uncle
Billy Raphael as Friar Tuck
Paul Plain as Little John
Christian Arteaga as Pennyroyal / Understudy for Sheriff
Nicholas Jaochico as Smudgestick / Understudy for Friar Tuck & Little John
Vanessa Dalpiaz as Madame De La Pauvre / Villager / Ensemble
Donald Martin as Guy De La Pauvre / Vendor / Villager / Ensemble / Understudy for Uncle
Kacie Jean Hennessy as Moxy / Ensemble / Understudy for Wren
Samantha Rasler as Mugwort / Ensemble / Understudy for Madame De La Pauvre
Diella Wottrich as Ensemble / Guard / Understudy for Aunt Ivy
Scout Del Real as Ensemble / Guard / Understudy for Guy De La Pauvre
Jesus Pedroza-Moreno as Understudy for Cooper
“NOTTINGHAM” YOUTH CAST:
Danica Ding as Ensemble
Coco Ambrocente as Bramble / Ensemble / Understudy for Pennyroyal & Smudgestick
Ginger Dreicer as Ensemble
Rowen Weeramantry as Peewee / Ensemble
Johanna Lins as Guard / Ensemble / Understudy for Phoebe
“SHERWOOD” YOUTH CAST:
Cecilia Bayley as Ensemble
Murphy Aldrich as Bramble / Ensemble / Understudy for Moxy & Mugwort
Mars Silva as Ensemble
Kyle Walsh as Peewee / Ensemble
Lily Black as Guard / Ensemble