New Ulm Area Catholic Schools present: Robin Hood Tale of Ye Merry Woode

NEW ULM – Laugh along with Robin Hood and his merry band as they outwit Prince Richard and his guards during New Ulm Area Catholic Schools’ (NUACS) performance of “Robin Hood Tale of Ye Merry Woode.”

This musical comedy will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday at the former Holy Trinity Middle School auditorium. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. The show will be less than two hours long.

“I wanted something light, delightful, that anybody of any age could come to,” Director Marijo Sweeney said.

The plot follows the general outline of the Robin Hood story. Prince John, played by Jeffrey Hogen, is the evil and oppressive ruler, while King Richard, John’s brother, is off fighting in the Crusades and only Robin Hood, played by Josh Dummer can stop him.

“My Robin Hood is very good,” Sweeney said. “He just has the right look for it. This will be the third year he has had a role with me and he is pretty good.”

In this reiteration Prince John has an equally evil sister named Lady Kate, played by Aleah Guggisberg. Together they plan to trap Robin Hood by forcing Maid Marian (Emily Schotzko)m who is a friend of Robin’s, to marry Prince John.

Through that marriage, not only does John hope to capture Robin but secure Marian’s wealth as well.

Throughout the plot, the audience can expect a lot of mistaken identities.

“There are people in disguise, and people that are in disguise that other people are supposed to recognize and the wrong people get arrested and there is a lot of, they do not know who people are,” Sweeny said.

For example: Marian and her friend Lady Beatrice, played by Brooke Landreville, disguise themselves as men to warn Robin about John’s plot, however, things do not go as smoothly as they anticipated when Robin and his friend Will Scarlet, played by Brendon DeVries, meet the two “men” and a fight breaks out.

“There is humor in every scene,” Sweeney said. “I still, as the director, laugh, even though I have heard the lines a zillion times.”

Another instance comes when the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Noah Thompson, decides he needs more spies to find Robin. He orders Guards Gilbert and Goose, played by Levi Jakes and Thomas Strub respectively, to use Marian and Beatrice’s previously discarded clothes as disguises.

“It is just very, very silly,” Sweeney said.

Patrons who have seen Disney’s animated “Robin Hood” depicting anthropomorphized animals may have an idea of what the play is like.

“I would say it would be closer to the feel of the Robin Hood cartoon, it would be closer to that feel though it is not cartoonish but it has got that light-heartedness,” Sweeney said.

Another common element is Alan-A-Dale, the singing rooster with a lute from the cartoon also serves as a singing narrator in this show, played by Sam Guldan though she will not be a chicken.

“She begins the show and then she is in and out, and she is sort of undercover in the palace,” Sweeney said. “They know her but the wealthy kind of ignore their servants and then she is a hero with the merry men and the poor people.”

The role is demanding, requiring singing and a lot of stage time, but Sweeney expects a strong performance out of Guldan.

“The girl I have playing Alan-A-Dale is very, very good and a very astute actress,” Sweeny said.

The show is designed to have a flexible cast. This performance includes a large cast of over 40 roles. Most students who auditioned were cast in one role or another Sweeney said.

“I have ages that span from sixth grade to twelfth grade,” Sweeney said. “So their abilities are spread out from sixth to twelfth grade, their emotional level, their ability to memorize, their acting experience, it is a very wide range.”

There are also two first-grade students who play peasant children, she said.

Even with such a wide age-range of actors, the cast has gotten along well, Sweeny said.

“When I am encouraging an actor to try something, they all start encouraging them,” Sweeney said. “Let’s say it is a new person that has not done this and I will say ‘come on, you can do this a little louder or turn this way,’ or whatever and then the whole group is supportive [saying] ‘yeah, come on, come on we will help you.’ They are very, very nice kids.”

Not only has the cast been supportive of each other, but innovative as well. Sweeney calls them her “mini-directors.”

“Even though I am the artistic director, I allow for input from the students all of the time,” Sweeney said. “With everything, from entrances, exits to their line delivery they pop in with ideas ‘can we try this or that’ and I always let them try it and a lot of times it is really good.”

The music of the play reflects its rustic setting. Sweeney said it is somewhat folksy and the songs are also easier for the actors to sing.

“I was looking at musicals that were for students in changing voice, because I have a lot of people who have not been in choir, who have not sung a lot,” Sweeney said. “So I wanted to do one where the music was not too challenging.”

Along with the cast’s songs, Alan-A-Dale has plenty of solo interludes that describe offstage action or move the plot forward.

As for the set, the play is designed to be flexible on how complex pieces need to be. This show will be using representational set pieces, as opposed to realistic ones. So the audience should be willing to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps, Sweeney said.

In part, this is due to a lack of room backstage preventing too many moving set pieces from being able to fit.

Sherwood Forest and Prince John’s castle will remain on stage the whole time. Each piece sitting on opposite sides of the stage.

In between the two primary pieces, movable set pieces will be brought on and off for scenes set in a cottage and a church.

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