With bows at the ready, singing voices warmed up and lines memorized, the cast of The Grand Victorian Theatre’s “Hi, Ho, Robin Hood” is ready to entertain all ages with their comedic rendition of the legendary bandit hero.
“This is a lot of the same story, as there are moments that everyone knows like the archery contest and meeting Friar Tuck,” said first-time director Cassandra Horton. “It also differs, because our villain isn’t the sheriff ... Mostly it’s classic elements, and this one is actually set to music.”
Horton has been involved with different aspects of theater for about 12 years, helping backstage and onstage for both the Umpqua Actors Community Theatre and Umpqua Community College’s theater department. She says this experience has given her a new respect for the amount of work it takes to direct a production.
“I actually work at Jacoby Auditorium, but this is the first time I’ve actually directed,” Horton said. “It’s taxing and its stressful and its so wonderful. When you see them put it all together and those moments of brilliance each actor has, it’s wonderful.”
The cast consists of around 20 members, ranging in age from 7 to in their 50s. Some, like Lacy Antonio (Lady Merle of Cornwall), come with years of acting experience. For others — especially the younger cast — this is their first show.
Antonio wanted to give Lady Merle a backstory to help explain why she is so mean. She decided on a long-lost love, which allowed Antonio to embrace the character’s villainy.
“I’ve never been the villain, this is my first time,” she said. “I’m loving it.”
Finding cast members was a challenge for Horton and the Theatre owners, Marcus and Joanne Ogle. Both of the Ogles, along with their son Robert, have roles.
“We didn’t mean to cast ourselves again,” said Joanne. “Though I love being in it.”
“There just wasn’t enough people to cast,” Marcus added.
Robert Ogle found playing Robin Hood a challenge at first. He wanted to find something to base his character on and thus began researching former portrayals of the famed character.
“Throughout the script, it kept saying to be ‘fun, jovial and happy,’ but I never really understood that,” Robert said. “Then my father and I sat down and watched an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ in which Robin Hood was depicted. He was so happy, jumping all over the place; everything was his game. We both thought this was perfect.”
It is his first leading role, which he says he is thoroughly enjoying. Since figuring out how to make Robin Hood his own he had truly connected with the role.
Curtis Balliew, who just finished playing King Triton in UACT’s “The Little Mermaid,” brought his wife and two daughters along with him as he continues pursuing his passion for music and singing. His wife, Cassandra, and two daughters, Sativa, 10, and Naomi, 15, do not have acting experience. That isn’t stopping them from enjoying a chance to bond as a family and face their fears. They encourage anyone thinking about acting to do the same.
“Do it afraid,” Cassandra Balliew said. “I’m very nervous and very shy, but right now I am facing my fears and it is very freeing.”
“The best part (of all this) is the relationships, just watching them create a family,” Horton said. “Theater always ends up being a family. A year ago, none of us knew each other and now suddenly we are all best friends and hanging out outside of the theater.”
The cast and theater owners agree that the people have made the play worth every challenge.