By SAMANTHA PIDDE
Timber Lake Playhouse's current production, “The Robber Bridegroom,” is a charming and fun tall tale set to toe-tapping Bluegrass folk music.
"The Robber Bridegroom" is adapted from the novella by Eudora Welty, with book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry and music by Robert Waldman. Set in the late 1800's in Rodney, Miss., the musical tells the story of the titular robber as he courts Rosamund, the daughter of the richest planter in the county.
Presented as a Southern fairytale, the story remains fun, light-hearted and uproariously funny, even when touching on darker themes. This endeavor would not be possible without the stunning TLP cast, which injects a lot of comedy into this tale.
Resident actor Jack Hale is first rate as the titular cocky, gentile Robber Bridegoom, Jamie Lockhart, with a performance that is smooth and stylish. Performer Quinn Martin is charming and strong as Rosamund Musgrove, the rich girl who is unhappy with her life and searching for more. The two of them have great chemistry.
Resident performer Daren Mangler is hilarious as the rich and naive Clement Musgrove. The quintessential "evil stepmother" character, Salome Musgrove, is portrayed wonderfully by resident performer Margot Frank. The two play off of each other well, especially in the song "Riches."
Performers Luis Garcia-Godoy and Joey LaPlant are sinister but hilarious as the murderous and thieving Little Harp and Big Harp. Their song "Two Heads" is hilarious and Garcia-Godoy (Little Harp) is both funny and creepy in "Poor Tied up Darlin'".
Resident performer Josh Lee shines as the simple and child-like Goat. Much of the laughter in this show comes from Lee's performance.
Resident performer Janessa Altvater gives a wonderful performance as the talking Raven, using great movement to seem like a large bird. The dim-witted Airie is portrayed well by resident performer Katelyn Baughman.
The rest of the story is filled out wonderfully with the show's ensemble cast, including Autumn Ket, Caleb Mathura, Ciarra Stroud, Megan Graal, Nissi Shalome, Roy Brown and Eli Nash.
Much like the story, the music with this production is a great deal of fun, full of square dancing and country songs. Whether a fan of bluegrass or not, this music will get into a person's head until they are tapping their feet and singing along.
As always, this wonderful music is possible due to the band, conducted by Michael McBride. The band includes McBride on keyboard, Roy Brown on bass, Ben Hopper on guitar, Hillay Bailey and Janessa Alyvader on violin/fiddle, Max Wagner on banjo, and Matt McClure on guitar/mandolin.
The excellent production is due to the hard work and dedication of Dan Danielowski as director, Emma B. Resek as choreographer, Garth Moritz as stage manager, Addison Calvin as technical director, Sherri Howells as set designer, Elizabeth Cipriano as costume designer, Corey Cochran as hair/makeup designer, Rob Littlefield as lighting/projections designer, Nick Leek as sound designer, Callie Hester as properties designer, and crews.
The musical is showing at TLP through Sunday, Aug. 15. Tickets are available online at timberlakeplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 815-244-2035. The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.