Arts and Entertainment

Kitsap Forest Theater turns Sherwood

Robin Hood, and what’s left of his Merry Men, talk about the good ol’ days with Marian. From left: Jamie Estill as Will Scarlet, Eric Emans as Robin Hood, Brian Lindvall as Alan-A-Dale and Abigail Taylor as Marian.  - Photo courtesy of Gala Lindvall
Robin Hood, and what’s left of his Merry Men, talk about the good ol’ days with Marian. From left: Jamie Estill as Will Scarlet, Eric Emans as Robin Hood, Brian Lindvall as Alan-A-Dale and Abigail Taylor as Marian.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Gala Lindvall

For the Mountaineers Players, this one’s a no-brainer.

Annually this group travels into the woods to undertake a theatrical production amongst the great outdoors at the Kitsap Forest Theater.

Thinking of the sets from plays like “Phantom of the Opera,” “Oliver,” or “Wizard of Oz,” that could be an arduous, if not ominous task, but this year’s production seems to be ideal — “Robin Hood — The Legend Continues.”

A whole new group of Merry Men will be taking to the Kitsa, er, “Sherwood” Forest Theater — beginning this weekend and running for three additional — acting out the story of Robin Hood’s return, 20 years later into parenthood.

Interestingly enough, 20 years previous on the Kitsap Forest Theater stage, the Mountaineer Players were slinging arrows, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in the original, “Robin Hood, The Musical.”

With lyrics from Martin Charnin, book by Thomas Meenan and music by Peter Sipos, “The Legend Continues” will be the 84th show for the oldest operating outdoor theater company in the Northwest, dating back to 1923. And with all of that falling in line before the proverbial curtain rises, this production has got just about everything going in its favor.

“It’s a little bit of a larger event than just the show,” director Craig Schieber said. “That’s evidenced by the audience who, for generations, have been coming to see the show.”

Though one may not typically think of going to a play as a day-long experience, the Kitsap Forest Theater provides that opportunity. Picnics at the trailhead are a common occurrence Schieber said, but in addition this year there will also be pre-show, fight-scene entertainment to compliment.

The actual show starts at 2 p.m.

“You can be guaranteed this is not going to be done like a regular stage show,” Schieber said. “We’ve got big sword fighting scenes going on that could not be done on most stages, we’ve got the merry boys swinging onto the stage, we’ve just made the show huge.”

In addition to characters yielding giant swords, axes and spears, the enormous old-growth fir trees matched with the cedars and ferns of the forest theater should add to the grandiloquence of the production.

Even a few of the cast members from the original, 1987, staging of Robin Hood are cast again in “The Legend Continues,” building the Mountaineers tradition.

This year’s principal roles, however, are played by actors new to the Forest Theater.

Eric Emans — an active singer in the Civic Light Opera — will play Robin, while Abigail Taylor — who recently played Caroline in the Seattle Performing Arts Fellowship’s production of “Enchanted April” — will play Marion.

Twenty years later, as Robin returns to Sherwood from the Crusades, he’s coming back to a markedly different, more grown up Sherwood.

King John has a 15-year-old wife, while Robin, though he wasn’t aware before his return, also has a daughter that age — Elizabeth, played by Ashleigh Emmons.

Elizabeth is determined to lead the new crew of Merrie Boys against King John’s men, even though Robin doubts her based solely on her gender.

And the saga ensues.

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