‘Robin Hood’ radio re-creation to be presented Feb. 26

Rehearsing with “Robin Hood – The Legacy” composer and music director Bruce Frazier (seated) are cast members (from left) Mary Wiedel as Maid Marian, Phil Culton as Little John, Drew Starkey as Robin Hood, Chris Driver as the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, and Michael Lilly as Friar Tuck.

Rehearsing with “Robin Hood – The Legacy” composer and music director Bruce Frazier (seated) are cast members (from left) Mary Wiedel as Maid Marian, Phil Culton as Little John, Drew Starkey as Robin Hood, Chris Driver as the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, and Michael Lilly as Friar Tuck.

Music of the period will help theatergoers travel back in time several hundred years as Western Carolina University stages “Robin Hood – The Legacy” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

The show, the seventh in a series of “academic-based entertainment” productions at WCU, will be presented in the style of a 1938 radio production with the cast, sound effects and orchestra all live on stage.

“Robin Hood” is a collaborative effort between two of the university’s colleges and three departments and involves students, staff, faculty and regional professionals. In addition, members of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra will be joining music students for the WCU Artist-In-Residence Orchestra to provide live musical underscore for the presentation.

Don Connelly, the show’s writer/producer and professor of communication, said he really likes that students from across the university come together with faculty and staff for a truly enriching educational experience. “We have everyone from a freshman to a professor of chemistry involved in the production,” Connelly said. “Supporting the story is an original dramatic musical underscore from Dr. Bruce Frazier.”

According to director Brenda Lilly, assistant professor of acting, directing and screenwriting in the School of Stage and Screen, the collaboration of the arts in all forms of narrative production – whether it is film, stage or radio – is critical to telling a story.

“As I have begun to hear the wonderful score Bruce has created in support of Don’s tale of ‘Robin Hood,’ I am nothing short of delighted. The music is inspiring to the performers and will absolutely enhance the audience’s understanding and enjoyment of our story,” said Lilly.

Frazier, composer and music director who holds WCU’s Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professorship in Commercial and Electronic Music, said the original music draws upon a broad range of themes and influences. Military flourish, comic flair, Celtic dance, medieval ballads and monastic chant characterize the musical texture evoking both the charm of the English countryside and the dangers that lurk in the dark forest, Frazier said. The tones and colors highlight the shifting dramatic emotions ranging from adventure to innocence, deceit, combat, death and, of course, romance, he said.

Poems from 12th-century ballads about Robin Hood served as inspiration for the project. In the radio play, a troubadour relates the tales as they unfold, representing the wandering minstrels of the era who traveled from town to town spreading the news of the day. The original melodies that he sings are used elsewhere in the play as underscore to the dramatic action.

The WCU Artist-In-Residence Orchestra, conducted during this production by Frazier, represents a partnership between WCU and the Asheville Symphony in which WCU students play alongside professional musicians in a collaborative orchestral experience.

The program’s opening will feature the radio show orchestra performing masterpieces of British orchestral music from the early 20th century – music that harkens back to the glories of the English renaissance and Baroque eras for inspiration, Frazier said.

The production also will include expressive, interpretive dance choreographed by Karyn Tomczak, director of the dance program, and Amy Dowling, instructor of dance in the School of Stage and Screen.

Funding for “Robin Hood – The Legacy” is provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine and Performing Arts, the Department of Communication, the Office for Undergraduate Studies, the School of Music, School of Stage and Screen and the Carol Grotnes Belk Endowment.

The Feb. 26 show starts promptly at 7:30 p.m., and no one will be admitted after it has started. The production will be recorded for future radio broadcast.

Tickets for “Robin Hood – The Legacy” are on sale now and can be purchased online at bardoartscenter.wcu.edu or by contacting the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479. All proceeds benefit student scholarship funds in the participating departments. Previous productions have raised nearly $40,000 for scholarships.

For more information, contact Connelly at dconnelly@wcu.edu or 828-227-3851.