Comedy-Rich Robin Hood: Prince of Tease Hits Bullseye at Performance Works

Photo Credit: Ryan Bolton — with Joseph Spitale and Emily Pangburn at Performance Works.
Photo Credit: Ryan Bolton — with Joseph Spitale and Emily Pangburn at Performance Works.

While some production companies elect to omit the descriptor ‘burlesque’ from their marketing plans, Too Fly Productions (TFP) proudly waves its burlesque flag high and with pride in their retelling of the tale of the heroic outlaw. To bring the countlessly retold famous tale into a more current focus, Robin Hood: Prince of Tease takes much of its story-arch from the same place Too Fly Productions gained inspiration in a title, 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

19 performers, 11 crew members, and an untold number of volunteers succeed in creating an alternative-dance experience for the comedic ages in the near-flawless execution of this Robin Hood retelling. Be it in costume design, set decoration, or acting, Robin Hood: Prince of Tease boasts an impressive cast and crew in each of the departments imperative in the creation of reputable live theatre.

Dawn Ewen deserves a heap of credit for the direction and choreography of the wonderfully paced production that would not allow even the shortest of attention spans an opportunity to wane.

A twenty-minute intermission breaks up the humour driven two acts in Robin Hood: Prince of Tease.

As if the well-casted productions did not already demand a lot from their talent, the production asks most of their actors to sing live to pre-recorded backtracks spanning the last few decades.

Asking the trained actors to sing along with the traditional music while performing stands out as one of the intriguing aspects of the Robin Hood re-imagining, as well as at times, works against the musical.

In what was sometimes an unbalanced or ‘hollow’ vocal tone to some of the singing, the audio imperfections were most egregious when vocal parts would switch from one performer to another. Vancouver Weekly was just made aware, however, Robin Hood: Prince of Tease is intended to have a video experience to accompany each of the musical numbers. With a significant audio issue the evening we were in attendance was the only ‘hole’ to be figuratively punched in an otherwise brilliant all-around production.

Robin Hood: Prince of Tease consists of an onstage onslaught of sharp humour as it spins the conventional telling of the anti-hero by ‘about facing’ most of the story’s beloved roles and switching the originally assigned genders for many of the characters.

The marvelously-sarcastic LGBTQ2A-friendly theatre experience set in cabaret style with table seating for guests of Granville Island’s Performance Works makes for a comfortable setting for attendees of the show.

The talent on display with the Robin Hood: Prince of Tease cast proves as versatile as it is rich in depth. Singling out just a couple performers for a ‘job well-done’ becomes an unfair robbing of the rich in a cast where throw a dart and hit a gifted member in the Robin Hood re-imagining. However, I would be remiss if I were to not tip my collective bycockets to Emily Pangburn’s rendition of the androgynous by name, title character Robin Hood. Pangburn’s brilliance leads the cast in what was an all-around impressive show of talent and dedication.

The wit of Katherine Alpen’s take on Robin of Locksley’s former servant Winkin shone through the visceral attack on the funny-bone that was continually on exhibition by the 30-person-deep cast and crew.

Most every one of the unconventional deliveries of Mann Marian’s lines by Joseph Spitale would see the full house at Performance Works in stitches, Thursday night.   

Jared Arthur endured an array of euphemism attacking the name of the character he bravely essayed, delivering a memorable brand of physical and verbal humour in what was a notable defence of the almost visible target on his little chest as John Little. In a phallic moment of triumph, Arthur proves that all the ‘little’ jokes cease when in reality neither chest nor endowment takes on the likeness of one’s ‘Little’ surname.

Maria Turner delivered a breathtaking aerialist performance mid-way through the second act as well as participated in one of the better ensemble casts that one is likely to see. In an embarrassment of riches for Director Ewen, Robin Hood: Prince of Tease boasts an impressive ensemble cast that includes The Argyle Embargo singer, Ariana Barer, as well as an eye-opener (honest to her stage name) ‘La Dame Derriere’, Caitlin Hill.

In addition to Barer and Hill, the ensemble cast consisted of the oft-stand-out performer and thespian Jill Raymond, who was once again at the top of her game in the visual bonanza.  The always memorable Effie Alexandra ‘wowed’ audiences in her role as Scarecrow (Geekenders Uncaped Crusaders: A Batlesque Tribute To Batman), and was once again not scaring anyone away with her part in the pursuit at ending the tyranny of Prince Joan in Prince of Tease. Rounding out the affable ‘ensemble’ cast in Robin Hood: Prince of Tease, Vanessa Coley-Donohue’s performance had all the makings of McRoberts’ alum Shelly Coley-Donohue proving once again how talented the Coley-Donohue bloodline is.

Notable mentions go to Matthew Fedorowicz with his hilarious take on the lovable Friar Tuck, as well the Sheriff of Nottingham who succeeded in ‘cutting hearts out with spoons’, Andrew Lynch.

The fiercely confident Robin Hood: Prince of Tease features a host of body-positive and LGBTQ2A themes which makes the utilisation of the term ‘burlesque’ one of the less frisky aspects of the risque production. Proudly embracing many of the elements cautioned against in conventional marketing terms, Robin Hood: Prince of Tease and Too Fly Productions do an admirable job of creating a welcoming atmosphere to all legal-aged members of the culturally diverse mosaic we enjoy here in Vancouver.

Executive producer Tim Kraumanis, writer and producer Alan Pronger and producer Kayla Heyblom put together a fantastic two-hour hilarity infused ride with Robin Hood: Prince of Tease at Performance Works.

With musical director Christopher King at the helm for the next Too Fly Productions musical parody(about child beauty pageants), look for the company’s first-ever endeavour Little Miss Glitz, to ‘remount’ with an opening slated for March 23, 2018, at Performance Works.