The Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Young People’s Theatre (YPT) will be presenting its you-don’t-see-this-every-day, parent-child theatrical production of “Robin Hood” Tuesday. The program’s director, Leah Heidenreich, and her cast of kids and adults are excited to lead the audience in a romp through Sherwood Forest.
Now in its seventh year, the parent-kid play is one of the theatrical season’s more anticipated productions. When it comes to theater, it’s in the blood.
“A lot of kids with artistic flair also have parents with artistic flair,” Heidenreich said.
Conceived by YPT’s former director Jen Julia, the show, Heidereich explained, is cast and rehearsed in a compressed timeframe.
“It’s fast and furious,” she said, “but it always comes together brilliantly.”
As of this writing, the parents have yet to step foot onstage. Julia and her daughter, Vivien have, however, been running their lines in anticipation of the show’s opening night at the Sheridan Opera House.
“Viv and I practice lines together,” Julia said.
For Julia, who once directed this unique show, performing in the show gives her a different perspective on the program she concocted years ago.
“Seeing it from this end is gratifying,” she said. “The process with Viv being in the cast is such a beautiful full circle. I’m excited to be on this end of it.”
Heidenreich said that after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 show, interest in its resurrection was at an all-time high.
“One reason I chose ‘Robin Hood’ was I wanted to pick something everyone would be excited about,” Heidenreich said. “This was the best turnout I’ve ever had.”
The folk hero Robin Hood and his band of large-hearted rogues who steal from the rich to give to the poor is an enduring, timeless tale. In fact, the term Robin Hood, according to Wikipedia, can be used to describe a “heroic outlaw or rebel against tyranny.” Robin Hood’s equally well-known cohorts include Maid Marian, Little John, Allan-A-Dale and Friar Tuck, and his nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham.
In addition to the Julia mother-daughter team, the cast is comprised of Brielle Geissler, Lila Goldberg, Raft Herzog, Ryker Herzog, Dolly Hynes, Rita Hynes, Luke Niehaus, Camille Skinner, Emerson Soules, Josie Ward, and their parents. The students are in grades 3 through 6.
Though relatively new to the world of theater, Heidenreich said the kids are the stars, with parents filling supporting roles.
“It’s been hard, what with Delta (the more contagious strain of COVID),” she said. “That makes (rehearsing a show) a whole other story. But the kids are incredible. They make it happen.”
Seeing parents and kids onstage at the same time is an aspect of performance that makes the show ingenious when it comes to influencing younger children to perhaps muster the courage to try the performing arts.
“When we do a parent-kid play, the familiarity with the kids seeing parents up there gets them interested in theater,” Heidenreich said. She added that the show often proves to be a conduit for children wanting to sign up for YPT programs.
For Julia, a seasoned actor, director and playwright, watching her children — her son Hudson is also no stranger to the boards — catch the theater bug is exciting, especially because they picked it up naturally.
“I didn’t push it on them at all,” Julia said. “Viv shares my delight in storytelling and character work.”
Julia is thrilled to see the continued success of the program.
“I love that YPT is in such great hands,” she said. “Watching my kids really enjoy performing is wonderful. One of my favorite things is picking them up from rehearsals and hearing stories about rehearsal.”
Despite the short rehearsal schedule — just three all-cast rehearsals — and the challenges of working safely as a group under COVID’s cloud, Heidenreich adheres to one of the first rules of theater.
“The show always goes on,” she said. “It’s really cute and fun for the whole community.”
In keeping with San Miguel County’s mask mandate, masks are required to be worn inside the opera house by everyone ages 2 and older, and the concession stand will be closed, Heidenreich said.
The performance is at 6 p.m. and is free.