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"Robin Hood" at Theatre of Youth

Adam Rath as Robin Hood at TOY.

The Theatre of Youth production of Robin Hood is the sort of show that could inspire a lifelong love of the theater in a child. With its appealing characters, action-packed story, and numerous moments of joyful comedy, this is a tale that is likely to resonate in the memories of the children who see it.

Robin Hood, of course, is the familiar legend of an aristocrat-made-outlaw, who lives in the forest with his band of merry men. From their secret encampment, they pursue a mission to protect the weak and, most famously, to rob from the rich to give to the poor.

Designed as a movie theater in 1913, the Allendale Theatre presents some challenges for live theater. The action can sometimes feel remote. This production, directed by Chris Kelly, eliminates this problem by bursting out into the auditorium with chases through the aisles, and by recruiting the youthful spectators into the action. Without hesitation, the crowd happily aids and abets Robin Hood and his merry outlaws as they evade capture, and shouts out “Long live King Richard” with fervor.

Talent and care has been lavished upon this production. In my own youth, children’s theater was known for enthusiastic but decidedly amateurish performances. By contrast, the Robin Hood cast boasts some of the most prominent young actors in our city. Adam Rath, who was featured as Laertes in the Delaware Park Hamlet last summer, makes a dashing Robin Hood. Megan Callahan, who has been seen on stages throughout the city, makes a feisty Marian. Handsome and multi-talented Alan Trinca and Anthony Alcocer play numerous parts, each distinct and playfully fun. When Billy Horn first enters as Little John, before he utters a word, children near me shouted out, “Little John!” even though the actor had appeared as a number of other characters already. Adam Yellen is deliciously hateful as the greedy yet ineffectual Sheriff of Nottingham.

The production continues through April 6