Oklahoma Baptist University

Trip to Sherwood Forrest Theme of OBU Children's Theatre

Oklahoma Baptist University's theatre department's newest production adds a twist to the Robin Hood legend to show that even storybook heroes have life lessons to learn. OBU's Theatre for Young People will present "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" by Mary Lynn Dobson, Feb. 22, 23, March 1, and 2 at 7:30 p.m., in Sarkeys Theatre on the OBU campus.

The play is designed for young audiences and will host more than 2,000 area grade-schoolers during special afternoon performances.

The play employs modern elements to change the once-simple legend into a hysterical trip through Sherwood Forest with surprises at every turn, said director Laura S. Byland, director of theatre at OBU. The children's play was written in 1999.

OBU students created the visual elements of the production with children in mind, imaginative scenery, colorful lighting and medieval costuming. The cast also uses a variety of English accents for the production.

Senior Michael Clack from Moore is Robin Hood; freshman Sonia Justl from Arlington, Texas, is Lady Marian; senior Brandon Rister Roye from Jenks is Prince John; senior Zack Hudson from Jenks is Sheriff of Nottingham; and freshman Will Ledesma from Wellington, Kan., is Town's Guy.

Freshman Andra Dunn from Garber is Lady in Waiting; junior Josh Cain from Muskegon, Mich., is Friar Tuck; freshman Rex Daugherty from Oklahoma City is Will Scarlet; junior Lucas Roeschley from Friso, Texas, is Little John; and sophomore Christy Hall from Shattuck is Ellen Adale.

The scenic design was created by Tana Fleming, senior from Bixby; the lighting design was created by Roye; the sound design was created by Clack; and the costume design was created by Shaunacy McHenry, senior from Gainsville, Fla.

Other crew included makeup designer Josh Peterson; stage manager Cheryl Sartain, junior from Tyler, Texas; assistant stage manager Kelli Kiser, senior from Edmond; and property manager Rose Bacorn, sophomore from Wright City.

This production also marks the 10-year anniversary of OBU's Theatre for Young People annual program. The first production was "Brer Rabbit Tales" by Stanley Vincent Longman in 1993.

About 20,000 children and adults have attended the theatre for young audiences over the past10 years. Local elementary schools and regional ones as far away as Prague, Varnum and Norman have traveled to OBU for the event.

"The idea is well-established now at the university," Byland said. "And the community has come to expect it and enjoy it."

Byland founded the program in 1993. The group produces plays to engage kindergarten through sixth graders in the art of live theatre. Plays are chosen for the values in their themes, including honesty, integrity, and preparing young people to recognize the good and evil of the world.

"It's neat to think that current students OBU from the area probably came to the show at some time when they were children," she said.

Other OBU plays for young people have included: "Zinc: The Myth, The Legend, the Zebra" in 2001, "Brer Rabbit Tales" in 2000, "The Velveteen Rabbit" in 1999, "Bamboozled" in 1998, "The Arkansaw Bear" in 1997, "Professor Filarsky's Miraculous Invention" in 1996, "The Wind in the Willows" in 1995, and "The Nightingale" and "The Emperor's New Clothes" in 1994.

"The children's theatre aspect has certainly enhanced the theatre program," Byland said. "We've had graduates go on in commercial children's theatre because they were exposed to it here.

"I love it. It's fun. It's what I look forward to every year."

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