The ’99 Percenters’ of Sherwood Forest had already taken over FrederickCommunity College’s JBK Theatre well before the 7 PM World Premiere of Robin Hood: Occupy Sherwood. They carried signs and protested outside. Inside the lobby more protesters sat with their protest signs. One could tell right away that tonight was not going to be a typical night out at the theatre. Maryland Ensemble Theatre prides them selves with gutsy theatre. They delivered that tonight partnering with Frederick Community College and Hood College.
Most of the actors entered the theatre through the same doors as the patrons as they took their unconventional routes to the stage. A capable band consisting of Evan Owens, Brian Weakly, and Myles Vlachos helped bring the music and lyrics by Thom Huenger and Joe Jalette to life. The music helped playwright Sarah Shulman tell her creative story. She weaved a classic tale into a relevant and timeless story. It is a protest, a plea to end the oppression, and a quest for peace.
Set Designer Joann Lee left plenty of space for the action to unfold for the play’s large cast. Lia Seltzer’s props, which included tents, benches, and other props created the encampment in Sherwood Forest. Director Julie Herber also did a great job on the costumes.
Julie Herber allowed the cast to have fun protesting before the show and with their entrance. She managed the large cast well and received some great performances from the leading roles. Joe Jalette made a perfect Robin Hood with his charisma and confidence. Emily Cucchi was wonderful as Marian and delivered one of the most moving performances of the evening. Their was a lot of chemistry between Jalette and Cucchi. Alex Borlo shined as Scarlet. Francis Mwale (Roger), Will Bureau (Much) also provided solid performances.
Tim Seltzer portrayed all of Little John’s changing emotions without missing a beat. Reiner Prochaska delivers a stellar performance as Sheriff. He understood why his advisory was a problem when he delivered his lines “It only takes one man to unite thousand.” I really enjoyed the scene in the second half of the show where the Sheriff and Guy of Gisborne (Giovanni Kavota) confront each other with their differences. Kavota and Reiner’s contributed to one of the play’s best moments.
Songs like “Freedom Left Along Time Ago” and “Quite the Catch” helped playwright Sarah Shulman tell her creative story. The final song of the evening was a plea song. It was was well-crafted and delivered beautifully by the cast. However, after all of the action and two hours of a play the audience should already know your plea and only served to reinforce them.
Robin Hood: Occupy Sherwood is creative, entertaining, and a one-of-a-kind performance. This production is too good for all the seats not to be occupied.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.
Robin Hood: Occupy Sherwood plays through August 18, 2012 at Frederick Community College’s JBK Theatre – 7932 Oppossumtown Pike, in Frederick, MD. For tickets call (301) 694-4744, or order them online.