Tuesday, June 16, 2015
SAK Theater Company of Orlando presented Robyn Da Hood - A Rap Musical at this years Orlando International Fringe Festival. I made the mistake of sitting in one of the balcony boxes. It turned out that the box would be used by several of the actors during the show. My student and I had to scramble to find new seats. The show is a mash up of the classic story told through hip hop beats. Set pieces were elegantly created out of corrugated cardboard.
The show swaps gender roles with Robyn Hood being played by Chelsea Hilend. Her merry band are also all women. Sheriff of Nottingham (Mike Carr) is a villainous sexist pig who thinks he can defeat Robyn by seducing her and keeping her bare foot in his kitchen. Lil' John (DeMarlon Vega) is the only person in the show who is dressed as a Rap singer. His only line in the show is "YAY-ah!" "Oh-KAY!" This caused a loud laugh from the audience every time but I'm just not hip enough to get the reference. Every song had witty, hilarious lyrics and the show galloped forward at a break neck pace.
One member of the audience got to play the part of the King. He was given a paper crown and a corrugated cardboard frame that came complete with a mustache and beard. One of the Merry Maids took a seat right in front of me for the archery tournament. Prince John, (Chris Dinger) was hilarious as an inept childish prince.
The show managed to entertain on every level. The cheap set pieces actually helped sell the campy and fun flavor of the show. For instance as Robyn escapes from the castle, a photo of her is clothes pinned to a line between cardboard buttresses and she cranked across to safety, all while the sheriff gloats in his success. I have always associated Sak with improv comedy but now I see it as a place where great theater is incubated and born. Robyn Da Hood won the Critics Choice Award for Best Book Musical at the Fringe and it is well deserved.