By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
Robin Hood (Mike Yarema), center, with Little John (Brian Hale), left, and Will Scarlet (Jacob Brown), right, make mincemeat of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Todd Thompson), far right.
Robin Hood would have fit right into the 1950s. We know this from watching Gaslight Theatre's new show “The Adventures of Robin Hood or, It Sherwood Be Fun!” Especially when Robin dons his Blues Brothers sunglasses to sing that three-chord warning “(Don't Be) Messin' with the Kid.”
Favorites from those Fabulous Fifties flow right on through this snappy rendering of popular moments in the familiar life of this legendary English figure from the late medieval era. The joust on horseback, the arrow-splitting scene, standing up for the people. All that.
But who knew “I Am the Sheriff” sung by the Sheriff of Nottingham, would sound so much like “I Shot the Sheriff,” and go right along side the hearty rhythms of “Rockin' Robin” – you know who gets to sing that song.
It isn't long until Maid Marian is asking “When Will I See You Again,” wishing for some help from those men in tights (especially the one clad in Lincoln green), because justice can't seem to prevail while King Richard the Lionhearted is off fighting in the Crusades.
Instead, Sir Guy of Gisbourne is the scurrilous magistrate and protector of the King's Lands, who couldn't care less about doing the right thing. In fact, he usually prefers to do the wrong thing. It's just more fun.
Joining the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy, aligning themselves with the forces of bad government, are the woeful Wormwood and the sinister Countess who is a sorceress with a laugh so evil it could crack the looking glass from those fairy tales of yore.
John Little, who starts out on the side of the Sheriff, sees the light and joins Robin Hood (as Little John, of course) right after intermission. Will Scarlet is another of the Merry Men whose name we know from those olden days.
All the roles are double cast, but at the performance I saw, Heather Stricker dominated the stage with her black heart and that world-class evil cackle full of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. David Orley as Wormwood got his own laughter, as well.
Representing all good-hearted females is Janee Page as the resourceful Maid Marian, who steals the heart of Mike Yarema playing Robin (when he isn't busy swinging across the stage on heavy ropes and climbing the castle's incredibly tall tower).
Justice is finally served on stage and the King's Lands are preserved for the people, just before the aftershow olio's time machine whips us into another frothy bit of nostalgia with scenes from American Bandstand, featuring Jacob Brown as Dick Clark.
There are a couple of dancing couples telling jokes so corny they must be seen to be believed, and Orley perfectly cast as the Big Bopper doing a medley of “Chantilly Lace,” “Charlie Brown” and “Yakety Yak.”
Girl groups of the day get a salute when Erin Thompson and Sticker take the lead to sing “Leader of the Pack” and “My Boyfriend's Back.”
There's lots more, to be sure, employing the Gaslight's collection of big-hair wigs to good effect. As always, nostalgia never looked and sounded so good.
“The Adventures of Robin Hood or It Sherwood Be Fun!” continues at various times Tuesdays through Sundays to June 7 at the Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway. Tickets are $18.50 adults, $16.50 active military, students and seniors over 60, $8.50 all children 12 and under. For details and reservations, 520-886-9428, or visit www.thegaslighttheatre.com