While I have enjoyed the plays at the Shubert, Ahmanson and Pantages Theatres, the most rewarding moments I've spent experiencing theatre have been right here on the Fullerton College campus. Such FC theatric productions as "The Shadow Box," "Cabaret," and "Equus" have left me exhilarated and moved, just knowing that the young actors and actresses on stage are there because of their love of the theatre. The only pay these performers are getting is invaluable experience and the satisfaction of a job well done.
Now, in the FC tradition of theatrical excellence comes "The Robber Bridegroom," a festive "bluegrass" musical that is as ambitious as any--thing I've seen done recently on the professional stage. And the best thing about it is that instead of forking over $25 a ticket, one can enjoy this version of Alfred Uhry's highly creative musical for under $5 (or for free if you have an A.S. card).
As lively and fun as a Saturday night barn dance, "The Robber Bridegroom," under the direction of Gary Krinke, is highly imaginative in its use of props and 'cast extras, the latter of which often time as the former throughout the play.
If a chair or hat rack is needed, instead of implementing the actual objects, actors fill these positions. The few actual props that are used-mostly large wood planks, sawhorses and barrels, serve numerous purposes throughout the production. This interesting technique eliminates the need for set . changes, making the play run smoother.
Set in Rodney, Miss. in 1795, "The Robber Bridegroom, is a humorous fable of one Jamie Lockhart, who, when he isn't doing good/ deeds for his fellow citizens of Rodney, is hiding out in the woods robbing people venturing through the still untamed wilderness. Lockhart's troubles begin when he robs
the daughter of a local planter, the girl being the bride he has argeed to marry before actually meeting her.
As Jamie Lockhart, Roger Castellanos is perfect, injecting into his :character just the right measure of suaveness and humor to make him quite likable, even as a crook There's also a vulnerable side to Lockhart which gives him a much more three-dimensional personality than the squeaky-clean cardboard melodrama heroes, such as Dudley Doright.
Stephanie Cabral turns in a convincing and enjoyable performance as Rosamund~ the dreamy, young j girl who spends most of her time · wandering around her father's plantation waiting for her "knight in shining armor." Rosamund's romantic fantasies, which keep her in a dreamlike trance much of the time, keep her. ignorant of her evil stepmother Salome's (played with the right amount of camp by Evelyn Halus) plots to get rid herself of Rosamund. It seems that Rosamund has two things Salome wants: beauty and her husband's (Forrest Robinson) true affection.
Two other fine performances were given by Scott Monte as Little Harp, an inept thief who keeps finding his territory and evil encroached by Lockhart, and Jeff Wirth as the simpleminded Goat, whose slapstick moves and pratfalls are reminiscent of Dick Van Dyke.
Unlike many musicals where the songs serve only to provide breaks between the actual dialogue, the songs written for "Bridegroom" help with character and story development Unfortunately, during the first three performances of the play last week, some of the lyrics were drowned out by the dancing (cowboy boots on -wood isn't exactly quiet) Working behind the scenes to put the fine touches on Krinke's production are a talented group of individuals. The two-level stage, designed by Todd Glenn, provides more room for the action and unique staging. Dennis Castellanos (brother of lead actor. Roger Castellanos) musical direction and Marilyn Magness' choreography· are also especially noteworthy.
"The Robber Bridegroom•• runs tonight and Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the Campus Theatre. Ticket prices range from $4 for general admission and $3 for students and senior citizens. A.S. card, holders will-be-admitted free.