SALT LAKE CITY — Off Broadway Theatre’s Eric Jensen created Robin Hood: Boyz in the Hood 19 years ago and it has proven to be a favorite at the OBT, as well as being performed in high schools, junior high schools, and other theatres in Utah, California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Texas. The show begins with an introduction from Jensen, which includes instructions as to how to react at various ‘good’ guy/’bad’ guy musical cues that will be played throughout the show.
The shows story line is essentially Disney’s animated version of Robin Hood, except in this version Maid Marion is being forced to marry a sheik who is attempting to transport oil across Sherwood Forest, what I thought would provide an opportunity for a little clever satirical political humor. But instead it was simply a sheik accompanied by two of his wives in Sherwood Forest. OBT continues to make attempts to interject current events throughout the production, but they too fall a little flat. It appeared that most patrons enjoyed the experience with bouts of laughter. Unfortunately, I found the comedy to be forced. I will admit that the most rewarding parts of the show were the moments of improv, when the poor-humored joke felt more original and fresh. If you a are looking for a show with good solid acting, choreography, singing, and a good story line, this isn’t the show for you.
All these criticisms shouldn’t hide the fact that the show did have its moments. The fight scene at the end of act 1 was quite comical and I found myself laughing on a few occasions. One of the shows most redeeming qualities was a minor character Allen Adell (played by Jake Miskimins) as the ambiguously gay Merry Man. His character came off as funny, light hearted and had good comedic timing. He led most of the musical numbers in the show and I found his acting to be refreshing and his comedy more natural than the others.
This quaint theatre in its prime location in downtown Salt Lake City (272 S Main Street) offer a unique mix of improv and theatre. The theatre takes well known story lines and adds its own improv comedy intermingled with current events. Throughout the run of any given show improvisation by the actors helps to fine tune the performance. A large majority of OBT’s regular patrons will take in the show at the beginning, middle, and end of the run and will see 3 unique shows. For that reason I won’t discredit an evening at the OBT. Unquestionably, the Off Broadway Theatre’s Robin Hood: Boyz in the Hood provides a unique theatre experience and a fun light hearted time.