Home > Carol Davis, Theatre > Globe’s ‘Robin and the 7 Hoods’ readies for a transplant to White Way

Globe’s ‘Robin and the 7 Hoods’ readies for a transplant to White Way


Walkin' Happy production number in 'Robin and the 7 Hoods' at Old Globe (Photo: Craig Schwartz)


By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO—It’s hard to wrong with the likes of Sammy Cahn’s lyrics, Jimmy Van Heusen’s music with book by Rupert Holmes when they come up with the idea of writing a brand, spanking new musical based loosely on a theme, kinda like Robin Hood but using gangstah’s from the 60’s (Rat Pack film) in place of the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, and placing them in Chicago. (“My Kind of Town Chicago is). I don’t know about you, but I love gangstah movies and stories especially when the good guys come out on top. Well?

Billed as a “Broadway-bound-musical”, Robin and the 7 Hoods is based on the 1964 film of the same name that highlighted Sinatra, Davis and Martin in the leads. The show is lively; it’s theatrical and it works. The production at The Old Globe bounces with rhythm and soul from the pit, under the baton of Mark Hummell and his twelve (no, not merry men) plus or minus musicians that it actually sounds like a full complement thanks to Bill Elliott’s orchestrations, to the entire ensemble as it weaves its way through a convoluted series of all the Chicago gangstah stories you’ve seen in the past minus the bloodshed.

The twenty-five (give or take) musical numbers that drive the capers of our protagonist Robbo Ortona (Eric Schneider) are aided by a very leggy bevy of six talented gals and nine good looking guys whose job it is to make choreographer (he directed as well) Casey Nicholaw’s dance numbers, including the whole ensemble tapping its way through “Walkin’ Happy”, look easy while the audience has all it can do but be satisfied with just knee slapping and toe tapping.

The book be that as it may, is the weakest link in this otherwise blockbuster of a show. Our main character Robbo Ortona wants to leave his checkered past behind and go legit with his string of nightclubs. Trouble comes in the form of mean gangstah P.J. Sullivan (Rick Holmes) who wants protection money from Robbo to keep his businesses up and running.

Robbo refuses even though P.J.’s in his pocket cop, Lieutenant Nottingham, (Adam Heller is great but don’t get him mixed up with the Sheriff of Nottingham) keeps finding reasons to shut down Robbo’s nightclubs. The put upon charges are enough to roll your eyes into the back of their sockets but in Chicago politics, money talks and Robbo walks.

Finding that all the closures are killing his business, he gathers his (merry) men all seven of them with Will Chase as Little John Dante his confidant, (The Dean Martin not so look a like) and takes a step backward by going back to what he knows best, safecracking. They break into P.J.’s club, clear out the safe and give the money away.  Sound familiar?

John’s squeeze is Alana O’Dell (the feisty Amy Springer). Their big number is “Come Fly With Me.” It’s a cute segue when he finally realizes he has to get out of Dodge in order to avoid being arrested for the break ins. They take off to Acapulco on a short-lived honeymoon, but the musical number serves its purpose. 

Into this mix comes Marion Archer (Kelly Sullivan) a TV host, reporter and daytime star whose on the track of P.J. and is ready to expose him as Public Enemy #1. You guessed it, Robbo and Archer hook up (“All The Way”) and work with…well, just imagine that it all turns out OK.

How can a show go wrong with the likes of “High Hopes”, “Come Fly With Me”, “Call Me Irresponsible”, “Come Blow Your Horn” (one of the super dance numbers), “Tender Trap”, “Come Dance With Me” and “Same Old Song and Dance” just to mention a few. Credit music supervisor John McDaniel for the vocal arrangements and a strong cast for putting them across with, what looked like, little effort.

On the star side, Eric Schneider is smooth and suave looking and perfectly believable. He’s not ‘Ol Blue Eyes’ but succeeds on his own good looks, easy delivery in both the singing and dancing department and he’s brings easiness to the part.  Kelly Sullivan is no match for him. There’s no chemistry, she’s too hard and too much of what she does/says doesn’t convince or have a sincere ring.

Spanger and Chase are wonderfully suited and do a great job as Robbo’s buddy and his girlfriend. She is as intent on getting married, as he is on staying single. (A la  “Guys and Dolls”). Adam Heller’s Nottingham has one of those steal the show moments when he sings “High Hopes”. It brought the house down. Some might remember his outstanding performance in “Dancing in the Dark” at the Globe a few years ago.

Jeffrey Schecter is the Sammy Davis character, Willie  Scarlatti, comes across strong especially in the dancing department. The other hoods lend just what talent is needed and the entire ensemble carries most of the dance numbers as well as the show. If you can overlook the corny repartee, the skimpy gangstah gig and the overdone love angle which most will do just because the show is so razzle-dazzle, it spells win/win.

Gregg Barnes, (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”), who was just named associate artist at the Globe, designed the costumes.  The 60’s look especially in the men’s slim style is very fashionable and sleek. There isn’t too much to impress or write home about in the women’s dress department but the dance costumes worked to a good degree.

Robert Brill’s set looks like one giant office building set off in the background three stories high and is a perfect perching place for some to strut or just be, while others are busy on the stage. It could be any big city high rise. Nightclub locations slide in from either side of the stage. Kenneth Posner’s lighting design is captured in neon and colorful overhead lights that adds to the finery of the production.

Overall, you will want to catch this one before it moves to Broadway.

On another note, we acknowledge with sympathy the passing of Donald Shiley this past weekend. He and his wife, Darlene, contribute to so many of the arts organizations in San Diego. Their generosity and love of the arts is evident in the naming of the stage on which Robin And The 7 Hoods is being performed: The Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage. It’s a wonderful legacy and the city of San Diego is more than grateful for their thoughtful deeds.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: July 30th-Sept.12th

Organization: Old Globe Theatre

Phone: 619- 234-5623

Production Type: Musical Comedy

Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park 92101

Ticket Prices: $68.00-$89.00

Web: TheOldGlobe.org

Venue: Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage


Theatre critic Davis is based in San Diego

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  1. August 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm

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