• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Robber Bridegroom

E-mail Print

Adapted in 1975, as a musical, from Eudora Welty’s 1942 novella of the same name, this play, with Alfred Uhry’s scripting and lyrical additions (and Robert Waldman’s original musical score), became a prologue to Uhry’s illustrative career, whose canon now includes the plays "Driving Miss Daisy" (in 1989, Uhry earned an Oscar for turning his stage-story into a screenplay) and "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." Uhry also authored the disturbing musical “Parade” about a true-life lynching. Together those three shows constitute what has come to be called Uhry’s “Atlanta Trilogy”; each one somehow touches on Judaism in that not-so-sunny southern city.

Currently, So Cal theatergoers have the opportunity to experience a rare mounting of "The Robber Bridegroom." Under Todd Nielsen’s vigorous direction and choreography, along with Gerald Sternbach’s musical direction, Long Beach’s International City Theatre has produced a nearly perfect iteration of "Bridegroom."

With a five-piece fiddle and banjo intense orchestration and a marvelously energetic ensemble of performers, we are treated to over two-dozen toe-tapping tunes and dance feats. Set mainly in 1795 around a place referred to as Rodney’s Landing, Mississippi, and billed as an “adult fairytale,” "Bridegroom" has as its primary characters a handsome bandit – whose main booty appears to be broken hearts – and a wealthy plantation owner’s daughter, whom the titular robber claims to love.

For the sake of dramatic conflict, there’s also an evil stepmother, an eccentric thief who totes his brother’s severed head around in a travel-trunk, and a veritable slew of dimwits, deviants, and other social undesirables.

Played out on an elaborately storied wooden set design by Stephen Gifford, with period costuming by Kim DeShazo, the cast includes Chad Doreck as the “gentleman robber;” Michael Stone Forrest as the affluent planter and landowner; Sue Goodman in a most animated portrayal of the scheming stepmother; Tyler Ledon as the decapitated noggin (cleverly conceived and performed); Jamison Lingle as Rosamund, (understandably) the object of the robber’s unvarnished but lusty love; Michael Uribes as the detached head’s little brother and, Adam Wylie in an exuberant embodiment of a character referred to in the program simply as “a simpleton.” Ledon and Uribes’s rendition of “Two Heads” is a quirky delight.

Lending committed support performances are Tatiana Mac and Teya Patt. Both actresses incarnate roles ranging from human to animal.

In the beginning of this article, I indicated that "Bridegroom" was “nearly perfect.” But what keeps this complex staging from being just perfect? I believe the answer lies in the relatively de-sexed interpretation that Director Nielson has chosen. In an effort to make the show a family friendly event, it seems somehow neutered.

In a cute bit where the robber steals Rosamund’s clothing – down to her bloomers and beyond – no flesh is flashed.  Rather, we witness this supposedly nude lady sporting what are clearly pale pantyhose and various straps. The illusion of sexuality is diminished and the production is made blander than what it could or should be. To be true to the term “adult fairytale,” we grown-ups should at least be believably tantalized by some worthwhile eye-candy, don’t you think?

Nevertheless, "Bridegroom" offers top-notch production values and a troupe of players who, to a person, exude the pure joy of performance. That makes the two-hour investment of time and ticket price worthwhile.

The Robber Bridegroom continues at the International City Theatre – 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach – through November 6. Show times are at Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sundays. For reservation, dial (562) 436 – 4610. For online ticketing and further information, visit



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.