Suzie Hansen has a long love affair with the musical “The Robber Bridegroom.”
“When I was in 10th grade, we did it at the (Rochester Community) college,” she said. Hansen was in the play again about five years later.
Now, she’s directing Absolute Theatre’s production, which opens Jan. 11 on the main stage at Rochester Civic Theatre.
“When I was realized we could be on the stage, I wanted to do a musical and dedicate it to my mom,” she said. Hansen’s mother, who loved music, died a year ago. “So this is for my mom,” Hansen said.
The play is based on a short novel by Eudora Welty, which in turn recounts a southern fairy tale. Jamie Lockhart, the “bandit of the woods” courts Rosamund, the only daughter of the region’s richest planter. There are some alter egos and mixed identities, a wedding, and plenty of intrigue.
The Broadway version was written by Robert Waldman and Alfred Uhry.
“There’s a lot of dancing and singing,” Hansen said. Song titles include “The Picklepear Bloom,” “Deeper in the Woods,” and “Love Stolen.” Live music will be provided by the Sawtooth Brothers bluegrass band. Laurie Helmers is music director.
As for her actors, Hansen said she got lucky. She has cast newcomers Kara Haack and Eli Hansen as Rosamund and Jamie, with Missy Hagen and Doug Petty as Rosamund’s parents. Eli Hansen, by the way, is making his stage debut. Suzie Hansen heard him playing piano at a party and talked him into taking the role of Jamie.
There are several other characters in the play, adding up to a relatively large cast for a show by Absolute, which has been gradually stretching the size of its productions.
“My concept is that nobody ever leaves the stage,” Hansen said. “Everything is done in front of the audience.”
No special effects, no sleight-of-hand trickery — just an old-fashioned genuine bluegrass musical.