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Wagon Wheel takes aim at story of Robin Hood

Junior theater offers youth fast-paced life of professional shows

The Wagon Wheel Junior production of "Rockin' Robin Hood" opens Oct. 28.

Published October 19, 2022

Wagon Wheel Junior is aiming for a bull’s-eye with their latest production.

The show of youths between 9 and 18 years old hopes to transport you from the Warsaw theater to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest in Rockin’ Robin Hood.

Opening Friday, Oct. 28, with three performances through Sunday, Oct. 30, each show will include an open house an hour beforehand with a costume contest, games, and trick or treating.

With no further delay

Getting its start in 2012, Wagon Wheel Junior attracts performers from about a 30-mile radius, according to education director Kira Lace Hawkins, who will be directing Rockin’ Robin Hood.

“When (artistic director) Scott Michaels and his wife, Jen (Dow), moved here, they really wanted to serve the students of our community by providing a chance to present musicals that were professionally produced,” Hawkins said. “We challenge them to put these shows together in just over two weeks, so it’s really fast paced. We challenge them to learn things very quickly.”

The show was originally slated for February, but due to COVID-19 complications, it was delayed. Of the 30 actors in the show, 12 had to be replaced because to the postponement, with a second round of auditions held in September. However, though they knew they were going to be in the production, they only began auditioning for individual roles on Thursday, Oct. 13, 15 days ahead of opening night. 

“We really are trying to model that professional pace for the kids and get them an experience of professional theater,” Hawkins said.

Once they know their roles, the work really begins.

“Every day, no days off,” she said. “Three hours on weeknights and six to eight hours on the weekend.”

Adding female roles

All that work pays off with the performances, and Hawkins is pleased to bring the story of Robin Hood to life, albeit with a twist and many more female roles.

“There’s your classic Robin Hood, and he has his twin sister, Hazel,” Hawkins said. “She is kind of marketed as the clever sister who helps him navigate Nottingham and figure out how to make his way in the town.”

The musical written by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogert also has the Sheriff of Nottingham and his fiancée Lady Blackwood, who attempt to tax the town blind while King Richard is away for the Crusades.

“We’ve long wanted to tell the story of Robin Hood,” Hawkins said. “It’s just such a classic tale, and the kids really have fun when they know the characters that they’re going to bring to life on stage.

“It’s also really fun that this takes place in Medieval times,” she added. “So, historically, it’s a fun education piece for the kids to learn about what it was like to have a marketplace and what it was like to have a tyrannical government try to take over your daily life.”

Music transcends time

Along with the educational component and familiarity, the musical numbers also excite Hawkins.

“The real twist for this one is that it turns it into a pretty classic musical setting,” she said. “There’s some great music throughout the show, solo opportunities for the kids. The styles range from kind of Medieval music all the way up to rock n’ roll. It’s pretty fun to weave the music into the story.”

And it also provides the kids with a fun experience.

“We’re really thankful to be able to provide a theatrical opportunity for the kids in our community,” Hawkins said.

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