It’s been called “the perfect play” by cast and crew, and with opening day only two weeks off, Rend Lake College’s actors are putting on the final touches to open the 2016 Fall Play “The Legend of Robin Hood.” The show premiers at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 with evening performances at 7 p.m. Nov. 4-5 and a 2 p.m. show Nov. 6 in the RLC Theatre, located on the Ina campus.
Written and directed by Tracey Webb, RLC’s Theatre Professor, “The Legend of Robin Hood” is set in medieval England, the year 1194, as citizens are being taxed and terrorized by Prince John, who openly advocates freeing his brother, King Richard, from the Germans. The ruthless Sheriff of Nottingham and his soldiers continue to hand out harsh punishments to citizens who don’t or cannot pay the taxes.
The young Earl of Locksley, disguised as Robin Hood, revolts against Prince John and the taxes by banding a group of outlaws together – his Merry Men – to rob from the crooked authority and return the money to the people of Nottingham. Along the way, Robin Hood and his Merry Men encounter Maid Marian and her ladies, and a lively dispute ensues.
With sword fights, dancing, comedy, and drama, “The Legend of Robin Hood” is a family-friendly performance that makes a poignant political statement about corruption, said Webb.
“I looked into just about every ‘Robin Hood’ play out there, and I could not find a script. I wanted something that was more than kindergarten humor, with a more serious message, but that would still thrill the kids,” said Webb. “In frustration, I decided to write the play.”
After spending the summer months researching Robin Hood and several of the main characters, Webb said the play took on a voice of its own, one that is continuing to change even weeks before opening night.
“The legend that is Robin Hood started out with ballads, medieval people telling stories about this great warrior. There really was an Earl of Locksley who fell out of favor with Prince John. A woman named Matilda Fitzwalter is often thought of being the historical figure behind Maid Marian. A lot of the play is based on factual people. It’s growing on its own and we’re still changing lines every day,” said Webb.
Playing the part of title character Robin Hood is RLC newcomer Alex Evanoff of Wayne City. Though the actor began performing on stage at the age of 11, “The Legend of Robin Hood” will be his first show with Webb. From the beginning, Evanoff expressed his desire to play the lead role.
“I really, really wanted to be Robin Hood,” he said. “This is the perfect play. It has drama, comedy, dancing, and sword fighting. It’s going to be a great show.”
RLC veteran actor Deborah Loucks of Mt. Vernon will play Robin Hood’s love interest Maid Marian Fitzwalter. Making her seventh appearance on the RLC stage, Loucks is also serving as the Dance Captain for “The Legend of Robin Hood.”
Over the years, she has served in many roles both on stage and behind the curtain at RLC, including three “Flummoxed Fairy Tales” performances, as Stage Manager in the 2015 Spring Musical “Les Miserables,” as Lem in the 2015 Fall Play “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” and as Meredith in the 2016 Spring Musical “Godspell.”
Loucks said her goal was always to play Maid Marian, though with an open audition process, she auditioned for all characters. Loucks explained, each audition is recorded and Webb selects students for roles based on performance, rhythm, and experience. That didn’t stop her from going all out for a lead role.
“I wanted to be Maid Marian because she’s not just a damsel in distress. When Tracey told me she had a combat scene, I was excited for the role,” said Loucks. “[The play] is a comical-drama; the whole package. Honestly, when I read the script, I fell in love with it.”
Portraying the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham will be Lucas Lingle of Thompsonville. He will be joined by the vicious Sir Guy of Gisbourne, played by Tarius Rollins of Mt. Vernon. The duo seem to come in a pair, both making their second appearance on RLC’s stage after having played Awgwas in the 2015 Fall Play “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.” Both also performing as the counterparts of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, they agreed, playing the bad guys is much more fun.
“I thought about the role of Little John. Everyone said that would fit me because I’m a nice person and never mean. But now that I’m the Sheriff, I really like it. It’s a lot of fun,” said Lingle.
Rollins added, “I was always going for this part. I get to be a wolf and sword fight. What’s not to like with comedy, action, and wolf pets?”
Lingle added, he expects the play to be a different show than others in the area, combining a little of the traditional fairy tale with a mix of murkier characters and tones.
“This show is a lot different than the fairy tale story. It’s darker. It’s like a cross between the fairy tale and ‘Men in Tights.’ We’re all very happy with the show,” said Lingle.
In addition to Evanoff, Lingle, Loucks, and Rollins, the cast for “The Legend of Robin Hood” includes 38 members, including:
- Taylor Aldridge (Eldorado) as Meg
- Mia Arview (Ewing) as Lynelle
- Donald T. G. Barnett (Du Quoin) as Bishop of York
- Colten Carr (Woodlawn) as Silas Middleton / King Richard, the Lionheart
- Aaron Dawson (Benton) as Reginald
- Tim Ellis (Mt. Vernon) as Prince John
- Sandra Eversole (Mulkeytown) as Sister Sophia
- Aidan Ezell (Mt. Vernon) as Will Scarlet
- Jakob Felty (Bluford) as Baron Fitzwalter
- Dakota Heck (Mt. Vernon) as Melvin
- Dallas Heck (Mt. Vernon) as Otis
- Rachel Helgeson (Mt. Vernon) as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
- Robin Johnson (Benton) as Prioress Emma
- Garrett Jones (Bluford) as Emmitt
- Melina Launay (Mt. Vernon) as Rashelle
- Adrianna Maxwell (Macedonia) as Sister Agnes Joan
- Megan McKinley (Mt. Vernon) as Sister Isabelle
- Hailey McIntosh (Ewing) as Tillie
- Kyla Mitchell (Benton) as Ellen
- Josh Nelson (Mt. Vernon) as Alan-A-Dale
- Benjamin Payne (Bonnie) as Little John
- Riley Rodgers (Wayne City) as Much Middleton
- Matthew Roy (Mt. Vernon) as Yeoman Angus
- Christina Standridge (Benton) as Lizzie
- Hayden Smith (Benton) as Jamie
- Logan Smith (Benton) as Peter
- Sicely Strumpher (McLeansboro) as Judith
- Kaleb Tiberend (Benton) as Franklin
- Falyn Vandyke (Mt. Vernon) as Maude
- Dereke Waithe (Mt. Vernon) as Albert
- Caleb Ward (Mt. Vernon) as Oswald
- Josie Webb (Ewing) as Gwen
- Kasey Wells (McLeansboro) as Friar Tuck
- Damien Wilburn (Thompsonville) as Phil
- Emma Wisehart (Whittington) as Bess
- Ethan Wisehart (Whittington) as Eddie
- Emmaline Wolf (Ina) as Lady Alyce
- Ivan Wysong (Thompsonville) as Lance
There are also 11 crew members, including:
- Olivia Bailey (Mt. Vernon) as Production Assistant
- Colten Carr (Woodlawn) as Set Crew Leader
- Cole Chavarria (Benton) as Production Assistant
- Pat Dearing (Ina) as Costumer
- Sandra Eversole (Mulkeytown) as Production Assistant
- Robin Johnson (Benton) as Production Assistant
- Anthony Mitchell (Benton) as Lighting Designer
- Elizabeth Nichols (West Frankfort) as Production Assistant
- Danielle Roberts (Mt. Vernon) as Costume Assistant
- Damien Wilburn (Thompsonville) as Production Assistant / Sword Fighting Coordinator
- Ivan Wysong (Thompsonville) as Weapons Prop Constructor
Tickets for “The Legend of Robin Hood” are on sale now through the RLC Box Office. To reserve your seats today, call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1467. Tickets cost $12. They can also be purchased the night of the show, if available.