Rockin’ Robyn

When I first heard of the production Robyn Hood from one of my students in Seniors College, I thought it sounded like quite a riot, considering the play had a cast of 75—Charlottetown’s version of a cast of thousands—and the script by Adam Brazier and Graham Putnam wove several stories together with contributions from the cast. One must certainly investigate a claim of that magnitude. After opening night at the Homburg Theatre, I can say with certainty the claim is completely true.

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The Confederation Centre of the Arts kicked off the Christmas season with Robyn Hood, a comic musical adaptation of the legend of Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest, except this time, Robyn is a woman out to defeat the power-hungry Prince John of the Kingdom of Charlottetown. Maria Campbell, an alumna of the Confederation Centre Young Company, belted out a charmingly exuberant Robyn Hood supported all throughout by Friar Tuck, played Alana Bridgewater, whose powerful and lovely voice filled the theatre—the two were perfectly matched singing together.

Not to be outdone was Maid Marian, played by Jessica Gallant, who matched the mood with her music as she tried to solve her dilemma: to betray or not to betray? Sarah MacPhee’s signature Town Crier role was resurrected yet once again and given the opportunity to rise in the ranks, thanks to Matt Rainnie’s dastardly pouting Prince John’s machinations. He was joined on stage by his two daughters in the Charlottetown ensemble impoverished by being taxed to the max by Prince John.

The numerous scenes offered multiple opportunities to shift around the cast of 75—filling the stage was certainly not a problem in this production. Although the production was not technically perfect, the minute slips here and there were easily covered up by the ribaldry and jokes that spared no one. A great deal of the humor, however, is strictly local and anyone who is not familiar with PEI culture might not understand why people were laughing. There was a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek wit throughout the play and even the songs were selected from a wide range of sources to provide a lively musical tapestry.

Besides the occasional dancer with lower energy levels, the performance was bursting with rollicking fun. Garnett Gallant’s set design was just right and I wonder if anyone else picked up on the bit of irony with the Bundy clock, guitar, golf cart, and Maid Marian’s selfie during the wild chase through the Christmas-lit forest, not to mention the occasional hand microphone appearing on stage after Friar Tuck declared the play would bring us back to a time before cellphones, iPads, and Netflix! Deliberate or not, inconsistencies aside, it all added up to a great deal of fun that might have started a tad slow but certainly built up to a rousing end.

If you’re in for some Christmas cheer, this is just the performance to see!

Review by Cindy Lapena. Used by permission. Originally posted on http://www.onrpei.com.

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Ready! Aim! Robyn Hood!

Robyn Hood and her ‘Fairly Merrily Men’ are riding to the rescue this holiday season. Adam Brazier’s comedy-musical Robyn Hood: This Tale’s Even Fairlier comes to life this week, premiering Friday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m. and playing select dates until December 17 at the Homburg Theatre.

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From the comedic minds of Adam Brazier and Graham Putnam, Sobeys LIVE @ the Centre presents a ridiculous musical in the ‘pantomime’ tradition. Expect great music, dancing, and gags in this madcap adventure set in the Kingdom of Charlottetown and Sherwood-Parkdale Forest. Audiences are asked to boo the villain (Matt Rainnie’s tyrannical ‘Prince John’), cheer our heroes (Maria Campbell and Jessica Gallant as ‘Robyn Hood’ and ‘Maid Marian’), and revel in plentiful local humour and holiday cheer.

Robyn Hood features a cast of 75 performers, including Charlottetown Festival regular Alana Bridgewater (Spoon River, Hairspray), Sarah MacPhee (reprising her annual role as ‘the Town Crier’), Putnam (Sketch 22, Annekenstein), and students from the Holland College and Confederation Centre School of Performing Arts. See the full cast list online.

Musical Director Craig Fair leads the production’s many vocalists and community orchestra through an electric song list of musical theatre and pop hits, including ‘9 to 5′, ‘Feel the Same Way Too’, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and many more. Choreography is from Taryn Verkerk, stage management from Anne Murphy, set design from Garny Gallant, and lighting design from Steve Ross.

Starting at just $25, tickets are on sale now. Visit confederationcentre.com/theatre or contact the box office at (902) 566.1267. The official hashtag is #RobynConfed. Appreciation is extended to production sponsor Maid Marian’s Diner and media sponsors The Guardian, Hot 105.5, and Ocean 100.

Build That Wall!

“Build That Wall!” — Matt Rainnie Joins ‘Robyn Hood’ as Wicked Prince John — Local actor, writer, and broadcaster to play chief villain in Centre’s Christmas musical

Enter Matt Rainnie as the artist formally known as Prince. The well-known CBC broadcaster and performer joins a stacked cast this Christmas for Confederation Centre’s holiday musical, Robyn Hood: This Tale’s Even Fairlier.

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Rainnie plays bad boy Prince John, the tousle-haired tyrant of Sherwood-Parkdale Forest, and foil to Robyn Hood (Maria Campbell) and her Fairly Merrily Men. Prince John rules the Island with an iron-fist, taxing the poor and scheming to contaminate their water and construct a wall around the entire province. The Adam Brazier-directed musical is penned by Graham Putnam and Brazier, and plays select dates, December 9 – 17.

“I’m excited to step into this bright and musical and incredibly silly world,” remarks Rainnie, “and to be the bad guy? Oh, it’s the best. Prince John is a sniveling, arrogant bully and that’s so much fun to play. I even get an awful wig, so I’m adjusting to having bangs for the first time in many years.”

Rainnie joins a fun-loving ensemble of theatre pros, Holland College/Confederation Centre School of Performing Arts students, hobby actors, and emerging talent of all ages, including Charlottetown Festival veterans Jessica Gallant and Alana Bridgewater, fellow Islanders Sarah MacPhee, Jordan Cameron, Nadia Haddad, Lexi Durant, Cameron MacDonald, Fraser McCallum, Tamara Gough, Ellen Carol, Al Baldwin, Ken Williams, and dozens more.

“I think with these shows, Adam and the Centre have created a welcome new holiday tradition,” Rainnie continues. “It can be a really busy time of year and these productions offer escape to this colourful and wonderfully ridiculous world, a chance to laugh and sing along to great tunes. Robyn Hood aims to do that again.”

Rainnie is the host of CBC Radio One’s popular P.E.I. morning show, Island Morning. Active in the community, he has also hosted countless charitable events across the province and remained connected to the local theatre scene where he was a founding member of Sketch 22, and cast member with Annekenstein and the improve comedy quartet 4Play.

“Theatre was a rewarding part of my life but I put it on hold the last few years,” he offers. “My daughters were both in Adam Brazier’s holiday show Aladdin last year. That gave me the chance to see this phenomenal crew in action and to see how much fun everyone was having both on stage and off. I knew I wanted to be part of that experience this time around.”

The broadcaster began his career with CBC PEI in 1993. He was a TV reporter and journalist before finding his home in radio. For several years, he hosted and produced the afternoon show, Mainstreet. During that time he was occasionally guest host of Sounds Like Canada and Weekend Mornings, and was host and producer of the national summer program, Lost and Found.

He has also worked as a film reviewer for CBC across the Maritimes, as a writer for stage and screen, and in animation voice-over. He lives in Charlottetown with his wife and three children, two of whom will join him on stage in Robyn Hood.