Classic tale hits outdoor stage

Arts: Dewdney Players showcase Robin Hood spoof at Okotoks’ Olde Towne Plaza

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 08:53 am

Joni Unger and Scott Fea enact a scene during a rehearsal for the upcoming production of Robin Hood, which will take place at the Okotoks Olde Towne Plaza in early August.
Joni Unger and Scott Fea enact a scene during a rehearsal for the upcoming production of Robin Hood, which will take place at the Okotoks Olde Towne Plaza in early August.
Tammy Rollie/OWW

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The clanging of swords may not be the loudest noise in downtown Okotoks in early August, but it will definitely be the most captivating.

Dewdney Players Group Theatre and Calgary’s Gas & Light Productions are joining forces to enact a hilarious, action-packed spoof on the popular tale Robin Hood, written by Larry Blamire, in an outdoor production at the Okotoks Olde Towne Plaza the first two weekends in August.

“It’s lighthearted and something that the whole family can enjoy,” said Dewdney Players producer Brian Fae. “There’s a lot of humour and some twists on the traditional gender view. In this play, Maid Marian is the best swords person.”

More than 20 actors will portray a tongue-in-cheek version of Robin Hood under what they’re hoping will be sunny skies.

“It just has a totally different feel when it’s outdoors,” said Fae. “The humour of it is excellent. Just about every other line’s got a laugh to it.”

Robin Hood is the third outdoor production to be hosted by Dewdney Players in Okotoks.

Fae said the idea to host an outdoor summer performance this year came from Gas & Light Productions’ director Jeremy MacKenzie, who performed in the Dewdney’s Players’ previous outdoor plays Treasure Island and Shakespeare’s A Midsummers Night’s Dream.

“I thought let’s do something… through a co-production with Dewdney Players,” said MacKenzie. “Treasure Island went down really well. I found the script for Robin Hood and thought it was great. Not only is it exciting it’s also very funny.”

MacKenzie said outdoor performances come with plenty of challenges, of which the cast and crew are working through quite well.

“You really have to project over all the traffic noises and the trains,” he said. “It’s a change from working in the theatres. It’s different, but it is a lot of fun.”

With 19 scenes and very few set pieces, the stage space must be utilized in such a way to represent different places, said MacKenzie.

“There are many, many scenes in this play and getting people on and off the stage is a problem,” he said. “In a theatre you turn the lights off, but you can’t do that. People enter and exit rather than just finish the scene on stage. You have to be a bit inventive and do things a little differently than when you’re in the theatre.”

MacKenzie said the performance is coming together nicely considering rehearsals only began last month.

“I’ve got an exceptional cast,” he said. “There’s some first rate people. My only problem with the cast is to stop them from laughing.”

Among those hamming it up is Dewdney Players veteran actress and producer Debbie Sands, who plays Queen Eleanor.

“I’m enjoying rehearsals,” she said. “There are funny lines in there and (the actors) are each adding their funny things as well.”

Sands said the play is packed full of action, particularly sword fights, which she suspects youngsters will especially enjoy.

“There’s lots of sword fighting, there’s comedy and a little bit of romance,” she said. “It makes for a fun afternoon if you go to the matinees with the kids, or the later shows. I think audiences will enjoy it.”

Sands is having her own fun getting into the role of the powerful Queen Eleanor.

“She is quite witty and does say some funny lines, especially to her son (King John),” she said. “It’s a fun character to play.”

The Okotokian has been part of the Dewdney Players for more than 20 years and is glad for the chance to perform in the outdoor production next month.

“I love being on stage,” she said. “Years ago I couldn’t have imagined myself acting because I was too scared. Once I got out there it’s like the acting bug bites you and you want to keep going back.”

The added bonus is the opportunity to perform alongside Calgary’s Gas & Light Productions, said Sands.

“They have so much talent in their group,” she said. “I’m very excited for us to work with people from Calgary with all their experience and talent. There is some really very good actors in this play.”

Performances of Robin Hood take place at the Okotoks Olde Towne Plaza on the weekends of Aug. 1 to 3 and Aug. 8 to 10. Friday performances will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets need not be purchased in advance as King John will extract a voluntary tax at the end of the play.


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