The Alan Case Interview: The Robber Bridegroom a grim American fable

The Lamron sat down with Professor Alan Case, director of this season's Vocal Miscellany performance, The Robber Bridegroom.

The Lamron: What can your audience expect from this show?

Alan Case: I hope they can expect to be amused. It's a very funny show!

The Lamron: Can you tell us a little about the plot?

AC: It's based on a novel by Eudora Welty, which is based in turn on a Grimm fairy tale. It tells the story - it's sort of a fable, an American fable - related to tall tales, like Mike Fink. It's set in the South in the late 18th Century. It's about a robber who sometimes disguises himself as a wealthy gentleman who falls in love with a girl. She falls in love with him in his robber disguise. Her father wants her to marry him when he's the rich guy and she hates the rich guy but she likes the robber. It's about how they work that out.

The Lamron: A Grimm fairy tale? Is the show meant to be a horror?

AC: I'm not sure whether an audience should be pre-warned about this aspect of this show. This is a show which the department has also considered doing, but shied away from because it's probably the least "PC" show you will ever run across. There are a lot of things that happen in this show that are very, very wrong. For example, the robber can't make love to a woman unless he knocks her out first; he hits her a number of times in the show. Fake hits her - it's not real and its intention is comic. One of the characters is a robber named Little Harp and his brother, Big Harp, is just a severed head in a box and he carries it around all the time. There are lots of things like that in the show. A show like that can be hard to produce, and you have to say, "OK, this is not really intending to advocate wife abuse." It's all comic in its purpose and if you play it right the audience will laugh at it instead of being offended by it. So that's what I'm hoping will happen.

The Lamron: Did you direct this show with a classical interpretation?

AC: I don't think there's any classical or normal way to do this show.

The Lamron: What made you choose to do this piece?

AC: Each year I look in the list of shows that I've wanted to do and I pick the show that seems best suited to the people who are currently here. I thought there was a great cast in place here potentially to do this show.

The Lamron: What's your favorite part of the show?

AC: I like the music of this show a lot. It's a style that I don't normally do because it's bluegrass. And we don't do much bluegrass here. But I like the score.

The Lamron: What, for you, has been the most enjoyable part of the rehearsal process?

AC: The most enjoyable thing for me about the Vocal Miscellaneous shows is the week of rehearsals that we do before classes begin, because we do three rehearsals a day. That means when we came back weeks ago they didn't know any of the show, and in one week the whole show was essentially done. It's a very intensive process and I always enjoy that. And this cast has been a great deal of fun to work with.

The Lamron: What pieces are you interested in doing in the future?

AC: I would say there are always shows that are revolving around on the list that is always running in my head, but nothing definite for next year yet.

The Robber Bridegroom runs Jan. 25 to the 28. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for the public, and are available at the Brodie Box Office (ext. 5833).