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By T.H. McCulloh, Drama-Logue

The goings on are still going on on the Natchez Trace and it looks as though they’ll be going on for quite a spell. Alfred Uhry and Robert Waldman’s bluegrass adaptation of Eudora Welty’s novella The Robber Bridegroom charms with its simplicity and with its dead-on bow to an era when America entertained itself with tall tales rather than tube trivia. And Robber Bridegroom is very tall, particularly in this delightful incarnation directed and choreographed with high energy, high style and high kicks by Todd Nielsen. Although some of his more lyrical choreography is pretentious it blends fluidly into the patchwork quilt of his inventive staging and his sharp eye for effects and moods.

He also has a sharp eye (and ear) for casting, especially in his Jamie and Rosamund. Gary Cearlock is a brash and dashing hero with a voice that lights up the woods, a fine footpad flair and a solid grip on the bluegrass mood which he delivers in top country style, and his Rosamund, Carlton Miller, is sheer magic from her rollicking comic sense to her ear caressing vocal delivery of the show’s big ballad, "Sleepy Man." Both are debuting at the Colony in Bridegroom and prove topnotch additions to the company.

Judy Heinz manages the improbable by making herself a sight gag as Rosamund’s evil stepmother Salome and sparkles throughout in a full and funny reading, while Don Woodruff is charming as her husband, addled to a tee. Daniel Lench and Larry Stotz are excellent as the Harp brothers, Little and Big respectively, even though the fact that Big Harp is only a head isn’t well enough established visually in the beginning. Lisa Beezley is a nicely underplayed raucous Raven and both Helen Hull (Goat’s mother) and Ferrell Marshall (Airie) have their good moments in the spotlight. Nick DeGruccio brings many clever touches to his bouncing ball of a Goat and the supporting cast, Larry Edwards, Giffin Gregory, Vince Acosta, Andrew Marzec, Maria Rangel, Luci Roucis and Stephanie Truitt, rises to ever spirited moment in fine fettle.

Musical director Marjorie Poe certainly know what she’s about in her handling of the score, though one does miss a healthy bluegrass scrub at the beginning. Nielsen’s marvelous set design conjures up a perfect mood for the goings on in Rodney, Mississippi, back "then" and Dorisa Bigg’s lighting design makes it glow. Top scenic art and special props are by John Thomas Clark and Marchele Copple’s costumes are perfect in every detail, particularly Salome’s which to quote Oscar Wilde, looks as though it were "designed in a rage and put on in a tempest."

This Robber Bridegroom has the stamp of Colony quality; it is a joy to the eye and ear and funnybone.

Copyright Drama-Logue
Reprinted with Permission
The Robber Bridegroom at the Colony Theatre