The Robber Bridegroom at ABET

The Robber Bridegroom is in production at the All Beaches Experimental Theatre through Feb. 10. This charming hootenanny is a lot of fun and shouldn’t be missed.

The musical, featuring book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry and music by Robert Waldman, is based on the 1942 novella by Eudora Welty of the same name. It’s a southern folktale with a bluegrass score and filled with comedy.

The story revolves around Jamie Lockhart, a gentleman robber, who meets Musgrove, the richest planter in the country. When he falls for his beautiful daughter, Rosamund, the story goes through a series of twists and turns with a case of double-mistaken identity. Throw in an evil stepmother whose intention is Rosamund’s demise, her pea-brained henchman and a hostile talking head-in-a-trunk, and you have a rollicking country romp.

The Robber Bridegroom is under the expert direction of Bradley Akers, who with the help of a talented cast and dynamic band featuring musical direction by Anthony Felton, created a fun, high-energy and memorable show. Brian Matthews brings great charisma to the role of Jamie Lockhart and Shauna Clark is captivating as Rosamund. Sadie Akers is wickedly delightful and has a commanding presence onstage as the stepmother, Salome. Brandon Hines delivers a rich performance as the charming Musgrove. Austin Kelley as Goat and Ilana Gould as Little Harp deliver standout, over-the-top hilarious performances in their roles. Leighton Baruch (Big Harp), Carly Barnes (Airie), Reed Marie Grubbs (Raven), and Jacquette Jantzen (Goat’s Mother) add impressive support in their roles.

Akers uses every inch of ABET’s space to tell this action-packed story with energetic choreography by Amanda Baillie. The set is rich in detail. In addition to playing the lead role, Brian Matthews is the scenic designer. Pam Joiner’s costumes and Bryan Frank’s lighting and sound design complement the story perfectly. The stage manager is Cameron Sparks.

Whether you’re a fan of bluegrass or not, the score is wonderful and skillfully delivered by the band that’s also onstage and in view. Along with conductor Felton on piano, the band includes Andrew Phoenix on guitar, Sean Tillis on bass and Kimberly Zielinski on violin.

Opening weekend sold out and tickets are going fast. Performances continue Feb. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Advanced online tickets are $24, $12 under 18. Tickets at the door are $25, $15 under 18. The house opens 30 minutes before curtain.

For tickets, visit http://www.abettheatre.com or call (904) 249-7177. ABET is located at 544 Atlantic Blvd. in Neptune Beach.