Mod­ern-day Robin Hood comes to PAC

The Welland Tribune - - Arts & Life - JOHN LAW [email protected]­a­garadailies.com 905-225-1644 | @JohnLawMe­dia

This isn’t your grandma’s Robin Hood, though she might have wished it was.

The Ni­a­gara theatre for young per­form­ers will dust off the clas­sic ad­ven­ture Dec. 14 in a con­tem­po­rary set­ting, with brand new mu­sic, themes and char­ac­ters. Oh, and this Robin is a girl. Played by Naomi Shad, she fights for a group of chil­dren who are liv­ing in a de­for­ested Sher­wood For­est af­ter their par­ents were sent to a bar­ren waste­land by the Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham for op­pos­ing de­vel­op­ment on the land.

Hill­strom in­sists the story wasn’t in­spired by the on­go­ing bat­tle to pro­tect the Thun­der­ing Wa­ters wet­lands in Ni­a­gara Falls from a $1.5-bil­lion de­vel­op­ment. The theme is uni­ver­sal, she says, and the young cast has re­sponded to it. “The kids love it be­cause there’s so much there for them to grasp,” she says. “They get this. They com­pletely un­der­stand how im­por­tant the world that they know around them is. They want to en­sure it’s still go­ing to be there.”

Di­rected by Hill­strom and writ­ten by Ni­a­gara play­wright/ di­rec­tor Le­zlie Wade, the show fol­lows the for­mat of pre­vi­ous Yel­low Door pro­duc­tions by match­ing the youth­ful cast with ex­pe­ri­enced ac­tors. This time, they’ll be work­ing with vet­eran Shaw Fes­ti­val per­form­ers Jenny Wright and Bill Vick­ers.

About 37 youths round out the cast, aged 10 to 18. Syd­ney Cor­nett will play Maid Marion.

The score is by com­poser-in­res­i­dence John-Luke Ad­di­son, a for­mer mu­sic di­rec­tor with the Shaw Fes­ti­val. The play is funded by a grant from Ni­a­gara In­vest­ment in Cul­ture.

Hill­strom says switch­ing the main char­ac­ter’s gen­der gives

the play a “fun” new per­spec­tive.

“What has taken over the piece are very strong fe­male roles and a very strong fe­male pres­ence,” she says. “Not that there aren’t young men in the show — there are, and they are im­por­tant — but it is about the strength these women bring to this group of chil­dren liv­ing to­gether.

“For our young peo­ple now, at least the young peo­ple that I work with … this isn’t any­thing out of the or­di­nary. The young guys are com­pletely ac­cept­ing of this.”

The show is in­tended for ages five and up.

JULIE JOCSAK THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

Makeup artist Jeanette Ward fixes ac­tor Abby Bul­lett’s makeup while Luc Cormier looks on at the Yel­low Door Theatre.

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