Press Report


Tiverton Gazette


December 16th 2008

HOOD - The Musical
Willow Tree merry band hit bull's-eye with Hood

Hood The Musical
Tiverton's New Hall
Amanda Knott

Hall becomes Sherwood Forest for hit rock musical

   Audiences gasped as they entered Tiverton's New Hall and saw the transformation of the stage for the Willow Tree Theatre's production of HOOD, a rock musical set in 12th century.  An austere castle stood menacingly alongside Sherwood Forest complete with rustic walkway in the trees, all splendidly created by Steve Gage and Theresa Priscott.
   Within this magnificent setting, the story of how Robin Hood became Sir Robin of Loxley and married Maid Marion whilst outwitting the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham was told in song and knockabout comedy.
   The opening lighting effect with rolling mist and gravelly voice-over transported us magically to an era of terror when the Sheriff of Nottingham planned to seize the throne from Richard the Lion Heart.  Peter Inman as Sheriff gave a wicked performance in true panto style inviting hisses and boos while Ed Pocock as Robin sang with a rich melodious voice and won all our hearts but particularly that of Maid Marion, delicately sung by Abi Pudney.
   The opening chorus number for the frightened women and children separated from their men folk and lost in the forest was imaginatively choreographed by Debbie Shearman with vigorous elbow gestures and overall passion.

     This was followed by a drinking song to beat all drinking songs performed by the Outlaws led by Little John played by Richard Barfoot who has an assured and powerful presence.  I never saw such rollicking and subsequent brawling!
   All the lyrics and music in this show were written by Andy Brown and Steve Williamson.  Next up, a poignant song from Will Scarlet (Malcolm Yeates) brought the audience back to the plight of their lost families.
   The Sheriff, wishing to flush out his enemies from the forest, decides to hold an archery contest; he knows Robin will be unable to resist the challenge.  For costume designer Denise James, this was an opportunity to give vent to her creative flare. Out went the austere brown and grey medieval frocks and in came silver hot pants, crazy white satin gowns, a day glow archery target with flying arrows (thanks to Vicky Gage) and a trio of thoroughly exotic jazz dancers (Georgia Buckingham, Danielle Coles and Theresa Priscott).
   The show ended with a glittering sword fight arranged by National Theatre Fight Director Paul Benzing1 and the arrival of King Richard himself, back from the Crusades and beautifully sung by Charlie Dyke.  It was a fitting finale to a thoroughly entertaining evening directed by Jon Sowden, produced and managed by Steve Gage and supported by Irene Holland whose tenacity and vision has long been behind the success of the Willow Tree Theatre Company.

1- The sword and quarterstaff fights were choreographed by Rick Barfoot who played Little John.



Audience Reviews


Tiverton Gazette


December 16th 2008

Willow's Hood on the mark

   I RECENTLY attended the Willow Tree's latest production, Hood - The Musical, at Tiverton's New Hall and felt I had to express my appreciation via your newspaper.
   They put on a fantastic show (as always) under the direction of Jon Sowden.  Tiverton should be proud of the hard work that is put in to nurture the talents of our young people.
   Steve Gage, the company manager, had built an elaborate and exciting stage set to a professional standard, including trap doors, ramps, bridges and castle ramparts, to transport the audience back in time to Sherwood Forest and the Sheriff of Nottingham's castle.
   There was exceptional dancing, both company and solo routines, but best of all was the singing.  I was astounded at the quality of the solo singers, some of whom may very well be taking their first steps towards a career in show-business.

   In particular, I would mention Ed Pocock (Robin Hood) and Abi Pudney (Maid Marian) whose duet - If I Have You - was simply beautiful, and Sammie Firbanks (Beth) who sang like a professional.
   There were many impressive individual performances from the cast, including Rick Barfoot's solid portrayal of Little John whose legendary fight with Robin using wooden staffs was brilliantly choreographed.  But special mention has to be made of the Sheriff of Nottingham: Peter Inman very successfully adapted and developed his twin influences (Alan Rickman and Walt Disney!) to create an evil, but flawed and pathetic comic character that had the audience in stitches!
   If you missed Hood make sure to be the first at the box office next November - you won't be disappointed.

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Hood - The Musical - Willow Tree Theatre Company - South West Adult Amateur Premiere - Spectacular New Rock Musical