Roger Hall’s Robin Hood: the pantomime

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

13/11/2010 - 23/12/2010

Production Details

Christmas – the season of fun and festivity is here again! And Yes! Circa’s latest fabulous Roger Hall panto, ROBIN HOOD, is all set to again provide laughter and magic for children large and small.
ROBIN HOOD opens in CIRCA ONE on Saturday 13th November at 8pm.
In the best of panto traditions there are lots of hilarious topical jokes, comic antics, bright lively music, amazing costumes and of course, plenty of opportunities for the audience to get involved. It is perfect for friends and family to get together and join the fun!!
Everyone’s looking for Robin Hood. After upsetting the evil Sheriff’s plans by winning the archery prize in a spectacular show of bowmanship, Robin has been accused of a trumped – up charge and declared an outlaw. Moving stealthily around the Town Belt, and taking refuge in Zealandia, Robin, Little John and Friar Tuck set out to restore good to the kingdom, robbing the rich to feed the poor, and raising the ransom to free King Richard – that is when Robin isn’t mooning over the beautiful and mysterious Maid Marian.
Meanwhile, his mother, Trelise Hood (dressmaker) – a "poor lonely widow woman". Ohhhhhhhhh! – is busy running up very fetching outfits in the latest colour (green!), and trying to attract the attention of a future husband.
This will be the sixth pantomime since Circa and Roger Hall re-vitalized the tradition in 2005.
“Robin Hood is not one of the traditional pantomimes,” said Roger, “but none of the other trad ones appealed to me as much as this.  It’s a good story about one of the most enduring of all folk heroes together with one of the great villains, the Sheriff.“ 
And this year, Jeff Kingsford- Brown is delighted to be playing that baddie. “At last!” he cheers.
Gavin Rutherford, who played the villain in Red Riding Hood, has undergone a complete make-over, to play the Dame, Mother Hood, this time round. “Oh the challenge! Oh the institution!” he says. “Not only am I nervous about continuing the Circa tradition started magnificently by Julian Wilson and Stephen Gledhill, but also internationally even Sir Ian McKellen has pranced the boards in multicoloured tights. The chance to converse so directly with an audience is a great opportunity and trying to maintain the PG rating on the innuendo is a great challenge! So bring it on. I feel honoured to be mothering the legendary Robin Hood and flirting with a blue reptilian Viking. What else can an actor want in a role?”
And as for Robin Hood and Maid Marian – two new faces to the pantomime line-up, Jamie McCaskill and Kali Kopae, are having great fun getting into the spirit of the show.
from the team that brought you Cinderella, Aladdin, Jack & the Beanstalk, Red Riding Hood and Dick Whittington and his Cat!
Starring – Gavin Rutherford, Gerald Bryan, Paul Jenden, Jeff Kingsford-Brown, Kali Kopae, Jamie McCaskill, Jane Waddell, John Wraight.
“Fast paced, packed with songs, corny puns & topical jokes – a fun night out”
– DomPost (Aladdin)
“A great way to introduce kids to the magic of theatre … easily the ideal Xmas outing for the holidays … a treat” – Salient (Red Riding Hood)
13th NOVEMBER – 23rd DECEMBER 2010
4th – 15th JANUARY 2011
And, in keeping with the spirit of ROBIN HOOD, Circa is keeping its prices the same as last year for this show. So a Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) is only $90,
and Groups of 6 or more are only $32 each!
Roger Hall’s ROBIN HOOD: the pantomime
13th NOVEMBER – 23rd DECEMBER 2010
4th – 15th JANUARY 2011
Circa Theatre
1 Taranaki Street, Wellington 

Performance times:     

13th NOVEMBER – 23rd DECEMBER 2010
Tuesday to Thursday – 6.30pm
Friday & Saturday   –   8pm
Sunday – 4pm
4th – 15th JANUARY 2011
Tuesday , Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday             – 6.30pm
Sunday –   4pm
$20 PREVIEW     –    Friday 12th November- 8pm
$20 SUNDAY SPECIAL   –   Sunday 14th November – 4pm 
$38   Adults; $30    Students, Senior Citizens and Beneficiaries
$32   Groups (6+); $20    Under 25s
$15   Children; $90 Family Ticket – 2 adults plus 2 children 

CIRCA Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
Phone 801 7992 

Robin Hood (her son): JAMIE McCASKILL
LittleJohn / Abbot / King Richard: 
Hattie / Lady Muck
The Crows

Presented by arrangement with Playmarket


Set & Costume:  PAUL JENDEN
Lighting:  JENNIFER LAL 

Stage Manager
Eric Gardiner 
Technical Operator
Nathan McKendry 
Sound Consultant
Oceania Audio 
Paul Jenden 
Paul Stent, Susan Wilson 
Costume Construction
Paul Jenden 
Claire Treloar 
Graphic Design
Rose Miller, Toolbox 
Stephen A’Court 
House Manager
Suzanne Blackburn 
Box Office
Linda Wilson 

Robin still dashing in the hood

Review by Rose Burgess (12) and Lynn Freeman (a bit older) 18th Nov 2010

This, Roger Hall tells me, is his last panto after making the British theatre tradition a Christmas treat over here. Robin Hood is the best of the bunch, riddled with political and other contemporary references for the grown ups and silliness for the littlies.

The singing is gorgeous, notably Robin and Marion (Jamie McCaskill and Kali Kopae), the songs for the most part are catchy, Jenden’s costumes and [Susan Wilson’s] direction are a hoot, and Gavin Rutherford is a grand Dame.

The only real complaint is the duration (almost two hours running time), making for a very late night for the youngest members of the audience. Trimming the bulky and sometimes tedious first part would make the world of difference, and make it less of a contrast to the fabulously fast and furious second part.

No need to explain the storyline. McCaskill is a dashing and delicious Robin Hood who is clearly having a great time with the role, and Kopae’s kick-ass Marion is great, though we could do with more stage time for her.

As mentioned, Rutherford’s outrageous Mrs Hood is just devine, a cross between Ginette McDonald and Eddie Izzard.

Jeff Kingsford-Brown’s Sheriff Rodney Hyde is suitably nasty, and Jendon’s blue suited Thor is charming. Jane Waddell, John Wraight and Gerald Bryan have the most costume changes in support and do a great job. Plaudits too to Michael Nicholas Williams for his musicianship.

Hall has done us a great service by creating these pantos which are terrific family fare.


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Robin Hood rides right through Zealandia

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 15th Nov 2010

It’s panto time again so you won’t be surprised to hear that the glen that Robin Hood rides through is in Zealandia, while his domestic goddess of a mum is a seamstress who plays with her bobbins in nearby Wellywood.

Abbot Costello lives in St Gerard’s-on-the-hill and the sheriff ruling on behalf of nasty Prince John (loud boos) is called Sir Rodney Hyde-with-a-y (louder boos, please) who wants to raise the Grasping Sheriff Tax from 12.5% to 15%. In far off ‘Ah! Vienna!’ – a funny unexplained running gag – is the Crusader King Richie.

There’s also a sort of Greek chorus of three crows who make us caw out warnings if someone is behind our heroes. Little John, who lives in the forest with Robin (there’s nothing wrong with that, says Mrs. Hood) and the gang are likely to break out into hey-nonny-nonny, hanky-waving, dances at the drop of a hat, which were for me the delights of this evening of wackiness along with Robin and Marion’s send-up of a Lloyd Webber-like romantic duet.

While possibly a mite too long and at times too convoluted for the very young to follow, Robin Hood has the essential ingredient of any successful panto – a confidence that somewhere in the torrent of groan-making corn, double-entendres, clever topical jokes, comic songs, and inspired silliness that the audience will be won over. Susan Wilson’s energetic cast won us over very quickly.

The costumes (Paul Jenden) are very brightly coloured and amusingly outrageous; the songs (Paul Jenden and Michael Nicholas Williams) are smart and witty, and Roger Hall’s script (his last one, he says. Ahhh!) pokes the borax at everything from The Hobbit fiasco to an archery competition’s third prize: a hot curry with Paul Henry.

Gavin Rutherford is a roguish dame, quick with funny ad-libs, and he has, most importantly, an easy rapport with the audience. Kali Kopae is not only a beautiful Maid Marion but also a spunky one, while Jamie McCaskill is a handsome leading man who is – and this is rare – funny. There’s good work from John Wraight, Gerald Bryan, Jane Waddell, Jeff Kingsford-Brown, Paul Jenden, while stage manager Eric Gardiner appears briefly as a medieval menial, the spitting image of Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein.

It’s tons of fun for young and old – and if you’re young you can cheer Robin to victory as part of the crowd at Trentham where the action-packed finale of a jousting tournament takes place.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


John Smythe November 15th, 2010

Thank you Maryanne - now it does mean something to me. And it's beautifully done btw.

Maryanne November 15th, 2010

I am laughing at the Aaah Vienna gag just from reading the reviews, does noone else remember that iconic song from the 1980's by Ultravox? For those of a certain age (40-50?) it's hard to hear that noble city mentioned without that drawn out chord resounding in our synapses :)

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Hits the target

Review by John Smythe 14th Nov 2010

What with different ‘Hood’ pantos opening in two different ’hoods (Wellington and Dunedin) and publication of his epic family saga A Way of Life being officially launched (by Playmarket); Saturday 13 November was ‘a good day at the office’ for Roger Hall. 

Once more the proven team of Susan Wilson (director), Michael Nicholas Williams (composer and musical director) and Paul Jenden (lyrics, set and costume design) adds enormous value to Hall’s well-wrought script: the last he will write, he reveals in his programme note, although there will be revivals of existing pantos with judicious topical updates.

Now that our employment laws render 21st century New Zealand more and more feudal (especially if you work in Hobbiton), a new look at Robin Hood is timely, and Hall and the Circa team deliver the satirical goods with alacrity and flair.

King Richard (McCaw) is off leading the Crusade(r)s, so bad Prince John (his photo gives us the Key) is in charge at the Beehive, but he has delegated control of WellyWood to Sherriff Rodney Hyde (with a ‘y’), who is preparing it to be the next super-city. The Crows, who call on us to ‘Caw!’ when there is danger, start as employees but get sacked under the 90 day law so return as independent contractors …  

The poor are taxed to meet the needs of the rich. Because King Richie’s salary source was tied up with South Canterbury Finance, he is now stuck in Vienna – that’s the Vienna Café in Picton – until the people pay “the King’s ransom” through a hike in GST (what was the Grasping Sherriff Tax at 12.5% is now the Greedy Sherriff Tax at 15%). Then there is ACC, increasing their premiums …

What’s more, now that Zealandia has become a wildlife sanctuary, it is illegal for the peasants to hunt for their daily sustenance in the forest (unless it’s a possum, usually scored through road-kill) … 

Thus the ancient tale of yore is stitched into our times and place. And speaking of stitching, Mother Hood – a “poor widow woman” (“Ohhh!”), who claims to be the aunt of Red Riding Hood by the way, yet bans hoodies in her shop – is in business as Trelise Hood, dressmaker. But she can only afford a very unfashionable green fabric from Ye Olde Spotlight and fears it will never take on.

Gavin Rutherford makes a splendid Dame, more attractive and light-of-voice than the usual throaty gorgon. He could do more with the man she picks to relate to throughout in ‘cougar’ mode, but was quick to quip with the “Bob” she found on opening night (“Say it backwards: Bob!”). S/he’ll have a ball this season, I warrant.

Jamie McCaskill’s Robin has perfect balance of poseur, good guy, fighter and lover and Kali Kopae’s Maid Marian proves his perfect match in every respect. Their heartfelt romantic moments are nicely done and their singing is superb (without a trace, I have to say, of an American accent). 

Suffering, on opening night, from a throat infection that allowed him a speaking voice but sabotaged his singing voice, Jeff Kingsford-Brown battled on bravely as the Sheriff, abetted by his pet dragon Thor, played by Paul Jenden in a wonderful costume created by himself (as his annual sauna therapy, one has to assume).

John Wraight delivers an excellent triple with stave-wielding Little John, an abbot who is blissfully unaware of the suffering masses, and a triumphant King John. Gerald Bryan’s Friar Tuck makes a significant move from ACC premium-collector to one of the merry men and ‘food-in-a-minute’ specialist. And Jane Waddell flips wonderfully between poor peasant-woman Hattie and ultra-posh Lady Muck.

Bryan, Kingsford-Brown and Waddell play the aforementioned Crows and – given the beaks that overhang their faces – I do have a quibble with their tendency to play to the front row, which both excludes the rest of us and stops their voices carrying to the overhead mics. Michael Nicholas Williams does a superb job as the one-man keyboards band but on such occasions the all-important lyrics – invariably witty in Jenden’s skilled hands – become muffled.

There is also a running “Aaah, Vienna!!” gag, beautifully sung by the ensemble, which means as little to me as it does, in the end, to King John, although his saying so got a huge laugh from a couple of people in the audience. What did I miss?

Overall the story plays out with assured and friendly theatricality, beautifully costumed in Jenden’s simple fabric set, brilliantly lit by Jennifer Lal, with engaging audience participation elements threaded throughout.

The archery tournament is ingeniously staged, with stage manager Eric Gardiner on target. The set-up of the telltale arrow that’s discovered in the hind quarters of a deer is nicely done. It’s this that sees Robin Hood made an outlaw (although come to think of it, being unindigenous, deer should also be culled from Zealandia along with possums). 

The build up to the climactic Tournament Day at Trentham, replete with hats, brings Robin the chance to be pardoned and give his garland to the maid of his choice. But the lance-on-horseback jousting is rigged. And – as with the final duel in Hamlet – a switcheroo gives the baddie his come-uppance (fall-offance?).

The songs throughout are lively and bright – especially the comically choreographed (Jenden again) ‘Hey Nonny Nonny’ that closes the first half – and the now traditional ‘Pantomime Whirl’ completes yet another family-friendly Circa pantomime.

Along with the always welcome feel-good factor, this Robin Hood really hits the target with topical and political satire. There’s something in it for every age and stage: book early.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Jane Westaway November 19th, 2010

Re the wonderful Robin Hood running gag, Oh Vienna -  go here and all will be revealed

Richard Grevers November 16th, 2010

John: Think 1980. Think Ultravox. In fact, go to the YouTube clip

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