Robin Hood and the funniest Friar!
Many years ago I was asked if I would actually direct my Robin Hood script. As it was a new and at that time an untried script I decided that it might be a good idea to take on the responsibility and consider it to be a 'work in progress' and see how it developed in rehearsals. As the script writer I felt that in being so heavily involved I would be in an ideal position to make any edits or changes that I felt necessary... see where I'm going with this? It was similar to a workshop production long before I had even heard of such a thing existing.
As I knew that I would be working with a large and well-respected drama group including some actors that I had worked with in the past and a tirelessly hardworking Producer, it wasn't difficult to say yes! However, this group had built up a reputation over the years for producing highly regarded and spectacular pantomimes- (so no pressure there then!) but not one to resist a challenge I threw myself enthusiastically into the enterprise.
It turned out to be one of the best experiences working in the theatre that I've ever had! It became clear during rehearsals that this first Robin Hood script required a core of creative and comic actors to flesh out the characters of the Merry Men and I was so lucky to have in the cast some of the funniest guys I've ever worked with and not only in Robin Hood but in other Productions too!
Rehearsals were a blast! Sometimes I had to send them away to a quiet room to practise their roles so the rest of the cast could rehearse without corpsing all the time. The little comic routines and gags they came up between them all found their way into the script and even though the script has undergone many re-writes over many years much of their fun, laughter and the sparkle they brought have remained in one form or another. Opening night of that first Show of Robin Hood had the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter and I'll never forget it.
One character that loomed large in the fun was Friar Tuck, played with aplomb by Bill Workman. Whether he was wearing much padding under those robes or none at all- my lips are sealed! Bill was a prolific gag writer and we are still in touch and he still writes the odd joke for me now. Every time I look back on those days and that very first Robin Hood script, I see Bill in on stage causing mayhem and I can't stop smiling. As part of the Crazy Fox special offer our latest updated version of Robin Hood is offered at half-price until June 23rd 2017. Thanks Bill... and for your many fun roles- this one's for you!