Dynamic. That could be the only word in this review and it would cover almost everything I want to say. Off of its newly won Tony Award, Dallas Theatre Center gave us a show that (with a little work and some rewrites) is ready for Broadway.
Opening with an overlapping history of Robin Hood and his Merry Men and then morphing into an embellished retelling of the men, and women, in lincoln green, this show was magnetic from the first syllable. The music by Lewis Flinn is so full of life and vigor that it automatically put a smile on my face, plus when you have voices like Alysha Umphress, Ashely Park, and Nick Bailey, you can’t go wrong.
However, where HOOD did go wrong was with the book. It seemed as if there was not enough time focused on certain characters, this was clear with Alysha Umphress’s Meg. Meg the Ragpicker was the only character that was written just for this show, she is there to inspire Robert of Loxley to become Robin Hood. The thing is, once that he takes on the mantle there’s no need for Meg to still be there. They give her a gorgeous song to sing in the second act and a (SPOILER ALERT) death scene that turns her into a martyr. However, this whole plot point just seems forced and tacked on so that there was more of a reason to have Meg be a part of this narrative.
Now, where HOOD lacked in a streamlined story, it made up for in all the technical elements. The set, designed by John Lee Beatty, was phenomenal, all I wanted to do was to be able to get up there and just explore and play. The set was made to resemble a barn and was built out of this gorgeously rich wood. Having the whole set be wood was genius considering that majority of the show takes place in Sherwood Forrest. The concept of the show was found objects, meaning props and many of the costumes were created using random things that evoked the feeling that the designers were trying to emulate. Having this concept in a show like this made it a far more layered experience because it added to the comedy, and storytelling in ways that were completely unexpected, but incredibly welcomed.
The cast is to die for, including Broadway alum and some talented people that everyone
should be watching. As excited as I was to see Ashley Park and, of course, Broadway’s queen riffstress Alysha Umphress, there was one person who truly stole the show and ran away with it. Jacob ben Widmar’s Will Scarlett is a joy to behold! He brings a breath of fresh air to the show and helps diversify the Merry Men just a little more. The second he strutted on stage had me worried that he would only be playing a flamboyant stereotype, but the character is approached with such thought and love that it never came close to being overly stereotypical. Widmar’s Scarlett was such a warm and loving character that brought something to this show that I wasn’t expecting on seeing.
Despite one slight downfall, HOOD is a show that could easily make the Broadway jump with a little more love and work put into it. It was truly an unforgettable romp through Sherwood Forrest with Robin, Marian, and the Merry Men, and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to see it again.