Good guys and bad guys; dance and romance; and lots and lots of swashbuckling sword fighting — "Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood" has it all.
Clackamas Repertory Theatre opens its 15th season with Ken Ludwig's comedy with performances running June 27-July 21 in the Osterman Theatre at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City.
In the course of the play, eight actors portray more than 30 characters, with accompanying lightning-quick costume changes and digital projections of 17 different English locations.
Audiences will particularly enjoy the tournament scene, where Robin and his band of merry men enter the competition in disguise. Swords will swish and arrows will fly, noted David Smith-English, CRT's artistic director.
He chose the play because "this is the kind of stuff I love," and he also has a soft spot for Ludwig, who wrote "Moon Over Buffalo," CRT's first play in 2004, and "Baskerville," which CRT produced in 2017.
Playing Robin Hood
John San Nicolas, who played Sherlock Holmes in "Baskerville," now takes on another iconic role as Robin Hood.
"I personally connect with his ideals and appreciate him as a person of privilege, who takes on responsibility because of that privilege," San Nicolas said. "He's a lover and a fighter who chooses peace, unless conflict is the only option."
Although San Nicolas took two years of stage combat classes when he was a student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, he has not picked up a sword for years — until now.
"This show has at least three times as much stage fighting as any play I've ever been in," he said, noting that the actors in "Sherwood" are using broadswords in many of the fight scenes.
Safety is always the main focus when using swords on stage, San Nicolas said, but it also has been a challenge to find "the ease and agility of Robin Hood in the fight scenes, that then carry over to the scenes that don't involve fighting."
Since this is the second time San Nicolas has worked with CRT, and since this production features the same playwright, director and many actors, "it feels familiar to step right in where we left off last time."
San Nicolas is a professional Equity actor and noted that he is thrilled that CRT is hiring union performers.
"They have gone above and beyond in bringing me out here, and I see that coming with real responsibility to be at the top of my game," he said.
The love interest
As a newcomer to CRT, Amber Bogdewiecz plays Maid Marian, Robin Hood's childhood friend and now love interest.
Marian also comes from a privileged background and then "realizes that this safe place is not exactly what she wanted," Bogdewiecz said.
So how does Marian deal with a band of swashbuckling, merry men?
"She gets in there and joins the party," Bogdewiecz said, noting that Marian studies sword fighting and archery and her skill rivals any of the men.
In the play, the author has taken a familiar story and turned it on its head in such a way that it becomes "a riotous comedy," she said.
She hopes the audience finds joy in that and further noted that the play is "relatable to the current climate in our country — so it should hit home for them."
Like San Nicolas, Todd Van Voris is an Equity actor who is returning to the CRT stage in this production; he played multiple roles in last year's "Sense and Sensibility" and was in two other CRT plays in the past.
This time around, Van Voris plays Friar Tuck, a member of Robin Hood's band of merry men, and something of a confidant to all of them.
"We have a very fun relationship; we trade verbal barbs in fun, and we're good friends," he said.
In addition, Van Voris makes a direct connection with the audience in this production, encouraging them to be a part of the play by booing the bad guys and cheering for the good guys.
He wants the audience to know it's OK to be silly and knows they will enjoy the comedy and the sword fighting.
Van Voris added, "I love that this play embraces escapism and is not shy about that; it's just a good time."
What: Clackamas Repertory Theatre presents "Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood"
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, June 27-July 21
Where: Osterman Theatre at Clackamas Community College, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City
Tickets: Visit clackamasrep.org or call 503-594-6047.
Cast: Equity actors John San Nicolas and Todd Van Voris, as well as Amber Bogdewiecz, Annie Rimmer-Weeks, Tom Walton, Mark Schwahn, Alan King and Tom Mounsey.
More: Clackamas Rep's production team includes Chris Whitten, CRT technical director; Annie Rimmer-Weeks and Orie Weeks, projection and sound designers; Sydney Dufka, costume designer; Jonathan Cole, fight choreographer; and Micah Steury, properties designer.
CRT: Clackamas Repertory Theatre is a professional Equity theatre company founded in 2004 to offer high-quality, financially-accessible productions for the citizens of Clackamas County and beyond. It also prepares current and former Clackamas Community College students for a career in theater through paid summer positions.
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