The Robber Bridegroom, the final production of the UTC Theatre Department’s 2011 spring season, is no ordinary love story. Set in 18th century Mississippi, this musical comedy, based on a novella by Eudora Welty, includes an eccentric cast of characters and bluegrass music. The play runs April 8, 9, and 13, 14, 15, and 16 at 7:30 pm in the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre located in the UTC Fine Arts Center.
The primary story centers on Rosamund, the daughter of the richest planter in Rodney, Mississippi, in 1795. Rosamund, is being courted by the debonair Jamie Lockhart. She is not interested in Jamie because she is enthralled by the “Bandit of the Woods,” a dangerous criminal who accosted her in the woods, much to her delight. However, because the bandit wears a disguise, she does not realize that the bandit and Jamie are the same man. Comic confusion ensues. Add to this basic story, an evil witch of a stepmother, a vile criminal who carries around his dead brother’s head (which talks to him), a cawing raven, a boy named Goat and some great bluegrass music and you have the makings of a superb evening of theatre.
“The thing that engages me most about the story is the exploration of female and male sexual archetypes,” Steve Ray, UTC Assistant Professor of Theatre and Speech the director of the musical, saod. “Welty was interested in portraying strong female sexuality in her work. In the end, it is not terribly politically correct. It also gets quite dark, like much of Southern Gothic literature—it’s both dark and funny.”
UTC’s production will visually highlight the fairytale nature of the story. The designs draw from children’s books and other classic depictions of fairy tales. The original production featured a minimal set using crates and barrels to create the various environments. The UTC production will stray from this a bit, creating a fairytale forest, strewn about with relics of the antebellum South. These relics—plantation columns, antique furniture, a broken chimney, etc.—are arranged in various ways to create a plantation, a cabin hideaway, a rustic inn and a riverboat.
The cast features UTC students Aiden Smith, Brandon McCravy, Tiffany Kelly, Maggie McNulty, Michael Haggarty, Will Park, Jarred Clemons, Brandy Johnson, Maadiye Davies, Kimberly Skoda, Megan Cobb, T.C. Cox, Erin England, Justin Holderman, Gregory Jackson, Tyler Mascia, Nicole Pavol, Forrest Pruitt, Hannah Tumlin, Iesha Vann, and Alex Whittle.