MIDVALE — The lawn at Midvale City Park was packed with quilts and camp chairs Saturday night in front of an amphitheater with a fairly elaborate set of a castle and Sherwood Forest, as my 6-year old niece and I arrived to see Robin Hood: Tales of Ye Merry Woode. As audience members made themselves comfortable on their blankets and milled back from concessions, two cast members acted out a short skit, letting the audience know the show was about to start.
This adaptation of Robin Hood, written by Anna Murdock and Catharina Jensen, told a traditional Robin Hood story interspersed with song and dance. The story was easy to follow and enjoyable;my niece was engrossed from start to finish, and I saw several children wearing Robin Hood hats and enthusiastically pretending to be Merry Men during the intermission. The set (Jessie Ibrahim, Russell Rowley, Becca Rowley, Rick Lorensen) and costumes (Cheryl Thomas, Cassie Lorensen, Shayla Tucker, and Jessie Ibrahim) were fairly elaborate for an outdoor amphitheater and served to effectively establish character relationships and locations.
Directed by Jessie Ibrahim, with support from student director Sammie Calkins, South Valley Youth Theater organized a large cast of young actors into a show that was cohesive and easy to follow. Along with the story, I was impressed by the singing and choreography (Rebecca Rowley, Becca Crookston, and student choreographer Caitlyn McEwan). Several musical numbers were performed by the company, and both the music and dancing held together to perfectly portray the mood of the scene. I was particularly pleased with the combined efforts of the company for the musical number “Taxes” in which the populous lamented their oppression under Prince John’s regime, and Prince John and Lady Kate congratulated themselves on so handily filling the royal coffers.
A few of the young actors were really remarkable in their performances. I laughed aloud at the antics of Prince John (Samuel Ahanou) and Lady Kate (Jaycee Jensen) and was impressed by both of their comic abilities and charisma together. Robin Hood (Jordan Allen) and Maid Marian (Nic Bastidas) showed a lot of vocal potential and carried their roles with confidence.
My greatest critique of the show was sound quality. While most of the actors wore microphones, they didn’t always pick up the performers’ lines or even solo musical numbers. There were certain scenes where the sound quality was fantastic and it was easy for the audience to hear and follow what was going on. But after all the work of putting together a youth production, I thought it was a pity for the families and friends of the actors not to be able to hear whole scenes and musical numbers their children had prepared. Sound quality is obviously important in any production, but even more so when dealing with an outdoor space full of distractions and a cast of youth with untrained voices.
By and large, the play was a success for its target audience. My niece had a fantastic time and had her eyes glued to the stage even when she couldn’t hear what the actors were saying. The cast was talented and enthusiastic, and they were having such an obviously good time that it was impossible for the audience not to enjoy themselves as well.