There is a good reason why families make Ross Petty’s musicals a holiday tradition. Each year brings a fresh new production. A classic children’s story that is somewhat familiar yet twisted and warped in so many different directions that describing it as “fresh” is one word you’ll use. Wicked good are just a few others. Once you’ve seen a production you will be hooked not only because your kids will enjoy it but you will as well. Now in its 24th year, the company continues to deliver top-notch entertainment in the latest production Lil’ Red Robin Hood now on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto until January 4, 2020.
In this adaptation, Maid Marion is a teacher back in medieval times and Robin Hood her dashing “steals from the rich and gives to the poor” separated husband, join forces to help Lil’ Red (as in Little Red Riding Hood) find his world history book and return safely back to the present day 2019 before the Sherriffe of Naughtyham uses the information to rule the kingdom and change history for good…er, bad.
Like the previous productions, the scene starts off in modern-day Toronto. Lil Red, (played by the incredibly talented Robert Markus, who previously played the lead in Dear Evan Hansen) is a high school student who’s cramming for an upcoming History test. He somehow finds himself on the other side of his locker and it’s all of the sudden the 15th century Sherway Gardens Forest (see where this is going?). He meets up with a cast of characters including Maid Marion (the powerful AJ Bridel), Robin Hood (the amazing Lawrence Libor). Alongside the three heroes are long-time crowd-pleasers including the oddly irresistible Sugarbum (Michael de Rose), the fun and loveable Marvin (Eddie Glen), and Daniel Williston also returns as the very huggable Friar Tuck. Of course, the evil queen Sheriffe (Sara-Jeanne Hosie) is a recent love-to-hate (but really love) who took over from Ross Petty’s evil genius roles and encourages all the boos and hisses from the audience. No really, it’s part of the fun. You can count on for the zingy, sometimes ad-libbed, one-liners from all these characters. We live for their quick wit and talent.
The musical works in a variety of pop hits from today’s playlists. Tossed in are a few retro rock out tunes for the parents and grandparents. You can count on some popular dance moves too… yes, The Floss is even worked in. Don’t worry if your kiddies want to dance and sing along, it’s all welcomed here.
What else is for the adults? You’ll find out when you’re there but you can expect very current issues cleverly worked into the script. Everything from supporting our teachers and arts in the education system to world leaders to Game of Thrones.
What’s different about this year’s production is the move into the Winter Garden Theatre – very fitting for it’s cascading leaves and tree branches tieing into the whole forest theme that’s been well received by parents and kids alike.
What returns is the entertaining “ads” created for the performance with sponsors. Always worth seeing their creativity here! Well-done Mucho Burrito!
For those who are not familiar with this style of family musical comedy aka pantomime or panto, here’s a quick idea of what it is. The style of panto theatrics started taking form in the late 17th early 18th century in the UK and Europe. Performances usually were held in the Christmas season. It was common to have gender-crossing actors performing in song, dance, on-script and off with lots of humour. It was a combination of a fairy tale or folk story with current topics that were enjoyed by many.
It’s an unforgettable and relaxed show for all ages that we look forward to each year. For more information on Ross Petty Productions Lil’ Robin Hood, visit the site here.