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posted: 4/23/2014 5:01 AM

Original 'Robin Hood' musical debuts in Elgin

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  • Channing Sparks, one of four gypsies who narrate "Robin Hood," leads the group in a featured dance.

      Channing Sparks, one of four gypsies who narrate "Robin Hood," leads the group in a featured dance.
    Courtesy of Children's Theatre of Elgin

  • Emilie Knieriemen, who plays Jack's mother and is understudy for all principal female roles, rehearses her solo for Children's Theatre of Elgin's production of "Robin Hood."

      Emilie Knieriemen, who plays Jack's mother and is understudy for all principal female roles, rehearses her solo for Children's Theatre of Elgin's production of "Robin Hood."
    Courtesy of Children's Theatre of Elgin

  • Mikey Morel, who plays the Sheriff of Nottingham, is surrounded by his quirky entourage of Tiny Tyrants during a rehearsal for Children's Theatre of Elgin's original musical, "Robin Hood."

      Mikey Morel, who plays the Sheriff of Nottingham, is surrounded by his quirky entourage of Tiny Tyrants during a rehearsal for Children's Theatre of Elgin's original musical, "Robin Hood."
    Courtesy of Children's Theatre of Elgin

  • Director Allison Cherry, who wrote the original version of "Robin Hood" that debuts this weekend at the Hemmens, began performing with Children's Theatre of Elgin in 1992.

      Director Allison Cherry, who wrote the original version of "Robin Hood" that debuts this weekend at the Hemmens, began performing with Children's Theatre of Elgin in 1992.
    Courtesy of Children's Theatre of Elgin

 
Submitted by Children’s Theatre of Elgin

Sherwood Forest is full of surprises in the Children's Theatre of Elgin's version of "Robin Hood."

The group unveils its original musical Friday through Sunday, April 25-27, at the Hemmens, 45 Symphony Way, Elgin.

Nearly 100 students from the Fox Valley area, ranging in age from 7 to 15, have been cast in the production, which features adapted versions of such popular songs as "Brave" by Sara Bareilles, "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars, and "We Will Rock You" by Queen.

CTE alumna Allison Cherry, a second grade teacher at Prairie View Grade School in Elgin, wrote the original script, which features an interesting twist on the classic "Robin Hood" tale. Cherry is also the show's director.

"I wanted this story to teach children the importance of being true to themselves," she said. "And I think audiences will really enjoy the surprises we've added."

The characters have depth, and their journey through the story brings wonderful life lessons to the audience. Safia Siddiqui, a freshman at St. Edward High School in Elgin who is making her debut with CTE, plays Maid Marian.

"I like that Marian is very brave," Safia said. "The character inspires me to be brave."

Mikey Morel, an eighth-grader at Hampshire Middle School who portrays the Sheriff of Nottingham, agrees that the characters are multidimensional.

"I like playing the part of the sheriff because throughout the show you can see how the character changes," Mikey said. "This is my 15th show with CTE and I'll be moving over the summer. I'll really miss all the great experiences I've had over the years."

Cherry drew on several versions of the "Robin Hood" tale to adapt her script. The setting for the musical is medieval and features period costumes, but the language used by the characters references popular culture, and the use of current rock and pop songs gives the story a modern update.

"The kids love singing and dancing to popular songs," Cherry said. "Of course, we had to change a few lyrics to make them appropriate for sensitive ears."

"Going to rehearsal at CTE is what I look forward to most of my day," said Emilie Knieriemen, an eighth-grader at Hampshire Middle School who is a soloist and the understudy for all of the principal female roles. "(Audiences) should come see the show, because it combines the traditional story of 'Robin Hood' that everyone knows and loves with music from today."

The Children's Theatre of Elgin has been providing theatrical opportunities for youth in the Northwest suburbs for more than 25 years, creating lifelong memories for audiences and cast members.

"CTE is a great place to be, especially if you have a hard time making friends," said Collin Theriault, an eighth-grader at Central Middle School who plays an outlaw. "Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and the shows send out great messages, like in 'Robin Hood,' it shows that you can stand up for yourself, even when you think you can't."

Cameron Griffiths, a seventh-grader at Algonquin Middle School who plays the announcer at the archery competition and a guard, agrees.

"This is my 13th show with CTE," Cameron said. "I've enjoyed this show because I've made so many friends and had so much fun. It's a very funny show, you won't want to miss it."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 25-26, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27. Tickets are $12 and $10 for students and senior citizens.

The group will present a special school matinee at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, April 24, that is also open to the public. There is no intermission during Thursday's matinee, and tickets are $8.

To purchase tickets, visit ticketpeak.com/CTESHOWS. For details, see CTE's website at cteelgin.com.

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