Backstage

Robin Hood News
October 12, 2009

The manly, albeit green-tighted Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, last set foot on the stage of Toronto’s Elgin Theatre in the winter Yvan Pedneault and Jessica Holmes of 2002. It’s 2009 and here we are, sillier than ever. 14 years into our run at the Elgin Theatre, we have several great young talents to be excited about. Particularly our hero, in the handsome personage of Jeff Irving. Jeff is 6’2″, and a young Tom Cruise look-alike. Having travelled from THE SOUND OF MUSIC’S mountain range to the forest of Sherwood, Jeff is looking forward to flexing his vocal and romantic muscles in tandem with the most talented CANADIAN IDOL winner that ever exploded through the TV screen, Eva Avila. Eva’s beautiful, with a killer voice, and a concert and recording career in the ascendancy, as witness her opening for Superstar Beyonce this year in 3 Canadian cities.

I’ve been a fan of Jessica Holmes for a long time, and only with the demise of CBC’s ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FARCE was she available to join us as the Good Fairy of Sherwood Forest. Jessica’s comedic artistry will join forces with the rock and roll power of Quebec’s Yvan Pedneault. Yvan took Toronto by storm as the lead in the Mirvish production of WE WILL ROCK YOU…and we can’t wait to give this town another taste of his searing vocals.

As the immaculately coiffed, but still extraordinarily evil Sheriff of Nottingham, I’m looking forward to teaming up with Stratford’s Colin Heath, a human boomerang who honed his incredible physical skills with CIRQUE DU SOLEIL.

But let’s circle back for a moment and wax nostalgic. The 2002 production of ROBIN HOOD starred Stratford leading man Graham Abbey, currently looking glum but gorgeous on CBC-TV’s THE BORDER. It also marked the musical theatre debut of NATIONAL BALLET super star “Sexy Rexy” Harrington as the Evil Wizard of Sherwood Forest. Rex is currently Artist in Residence at THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA, when he isn’t making appearances as a guest judge on CTV’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA.
Allow me to digress for a moment and acknowledge another guest judge on SYTYCDC…one Karen Kain, Artistic Director of THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA, former star of my earlier shows…..CINDERELLA (1986), SNOW WHITE (1987) and ROBIN HOOD (1996)….and my current wife since 1983. Even though Karen wasn’t in her sweet spot of classical dance on the hit CTV show, her positive comments about the courageous young dancers inspired their subsequent performances.

That 1996 version of ROBIN HOOD was the Debut of Silliness at the Elgin Theatre, and I reunited Karen with her ballet partner of many years standing, Frank Augustyn. For all the balletomanes, Frank is now happily ensconced as the Director of Dance at Adelphi University in New York State.

The production also featured a dashing young man named Dan Chameroy in the title role, and after appearing this year in Stratford’s WEST SIDE STORY and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, Dan returns to the Elgin as Plumbum Von Botox…fondly, or perhaps grotesquely remembered as one of the Ugly Stepsisters in last year’s production of CINDERELLA. Dan made such an indelible impression as Plumbum in 2008, that we made the unprecedented move to have a character from one show transfer seamlessly (well that remains to be seen), to another production. Plumbum left her mother and sister (Bertha and Carnivia Von Botox) in the dust of the pumpkin patch, to move to Sherwood Forest, enlist in Nottingham Nursing Academy, and become Maid Marion’s guardian.

The 1996 show was also noteworthy for launching the career of a towering and boyishly enthusiastic Kevin Durand as Little John. I remember Kevin being thrilled that in his first professional gig, he was dancing with Karen Kain. Well, obviously we had an eye for talent as Kevin went on to forge an impressive career in film and television, having major roles in X MEN ORIGINS:WOLVERINE; AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME; Kevin Durand3:10 TO YUMA; and 8 episodes of LOST. How ironic that from his very first role as Little John in our production at the Elgin, Kevin will soon be seen as the same character in the eagerly anticipated new film version of ROBIN HOOD, playing opposite Russell Crowe as the man in green and directed by screen legend Ridley Scott. Did I ask Kevin to reprise his Little John role at the Elgin this winter? Absolutely……and he would have loved to have returned to Canada, if not for shooting his next picture, a supernatural thriller called LEGION, co-starring with Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid.

But enough about movies….would you like to join us at the Elgin Theatre this winter and give your family the Greenest gift of all? I think you all know the answer to that question…SHER-WOOD!

Ross Petty