The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Katharine Demers as “The Town’s Gal,” Eli Frydman as Robin Hood, and Shannon Mullen as Lady Marian. Courtesy photo.

The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood

Where: Concord City Auditorium, 2 Prince St., Concord
When: Friday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $13
Contact:, 344-4747

Silly Robin Hood
Another Monty Python-esque play for Concord

By Kelly Sennott

 Act I of The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood ends with Robin Hood in an unfortunate state: not only has he been locked away in a dungeon, but the Sheriff of Nottingham has also decided to torture him by continuously playing “Let It Go” from the Frozen soundtrack.

The Children’s Theatre Project’s 2014 show follows last year’s successful Spamalot by the Community Players of Concord, CTP’s parent company. It happens at the Concord City Auditorium Friday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m., and features students ages 9 to 16. The behind-the-scenes action is led by brother/sister stage managing team Jack and Jordan Vachon, and up front are 29 cast members.
The play is a witty take on the classic tale, geared toward children but still appealing to adults, with slapstick, snappy dialogue, pop culture references and even a few risque jokes. (There’s some confusion in the first scene, for instance, when the narrator describes Robin Hood grabbing Maid Marian’s chest — her chest of jewels, of course.) 
Girl Scout cookies make an appearance, and instead of swords, the kids fight with long, wooden spoons, and instead of archery uniforms, those competing for the hand of Maid Marian wear bowling shirts. 
If a recent rehearsal was any indication, the kids are enjoying this silly play. One young actor, 15-year-old Penacook native Corinne Stanley, said she auditioned because she saw and enjoyed the Players’ Spamalot so much.
“It’s probably closest to Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” said Stanley, who plays Friar Tuck. “It’s very Monty Python-esque. It almost makes fun of itself in a sense, and it’s very self-aware of the fact it’s a play.”
For example, the narrator, played by Katharine Demers, is called “The Town’s Gal.” In the very first scene, she introduces a flashback, much to the consternation of Robin Hood, who insists he doesn’t need a narrator’s help. (“Oh Robin, please. You know how much the Merry Men do love a good flashback,” responds Friar Tuck.)
In return, Town’s Gal gestures out into the audience and asks for help. “Mr. Technical Director, good day to you sir. Some flashback atmosphere, if you please.”
The kids are enjoying the challenge. 
“Comedic acting is very technically difficult,” said 16-year-old Eli Frydman, a Concord resident who plays Robin Hood. “Timing is super important, and especially in a play like this, where humor is situational and reference-based, you have to find a way to balance the jokes and motives of the character so that it still holds together as a story, which is a really fine line.”
This will be Frydman’s last play with CTP. Many of the leads, in fact, will be aging out, either this year or next, and for many of them, it will be a bittersweet ending. You gain a sense of confidence when you grow up performing onstage. 
Fourteen-year-old Andrew Strzepek, who plays the Sheriff of Nottingham, says he’s learned not to worry about looking silly onstage. When he first read the script, he saw right away that the Sheriff was a cocky but awkward bad guy. He embraced it.
“You can’t be afraid to do stuff onstage. You have to think about what he [his character, the Sheriff] would do, and just do it, even if you think it might be embarrassing,” Strzepek said. “I think it [theater] makes you a lot more open. You don’t feel shy once you go onstage and perform in these plays.”
Director and company co-founder Karen Braz finds inspiration seeing the kids grow year after year.
“Kids really want to do this, and that’s why I’m like, ‘Please don’t cut the arts out of school programs!’” Braz said. “I know that not many will study theater afterward. … But I would hope that one of the things that happens when kids get involved in the arts early on is that they develop not only a love for it from the inside, in terms of performing onstage, but on the outside, too … that they become patrons of the arts on a grander scale.” 
As seen in the October 9, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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