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Band of merry men, and women, take to stage

Christian Youth Theater to present musical
by: John Klicker, Scott Bradner (Robin Hood) stands on a rock at the beginning of the play “Robin Hood: The Musical,” during a dress rehearsal Monday, March 10.

Prior to Monday night rehearsal at Barlow High School, Jessica Dore, director of Christian Youth Theater's 'Robin Hood: The Musical,' asks the more than 70 cast members present to take a moment and pray.

'I pray tonight that we have patience with each other,' she says. 'Help us not to leave here frustrated and disappointed.'

She pauses.

'Keep us safe as well, not poking each other with swords!'

It may be a hard prayer to answer as the musical features a number of swordfights, according to Ellie Campbell, 13, of Gresham.

'I get in a swordfight,' she says with apparent glee, adding that she plays a member of Robin's band of outlaws as well as a maiden dancer. She says she welcomes the chance to play a character whose leader is 'on the good side.'

'He fights for justice. He robbed the rich to give to the poor. That part of it appeals to me.'

Ethan Morrow, 14, who lives near the Portland-Gresham border, plays Friar Tuck. He notes that he always liked humor and the jolly nature displayed by the badger Friar Tuck in the 1973 Walt Disney movie 'Robin Hood.' He adds, however, that playing the friar has not inspired him to become a man of the cloth someday.

Ethan says playing Tuck allows him to say some of the musical's most colorful lines. For example, when he dispatches a cook serving the wicked Prince John, he tells another character: 'He's resting behind the tapestry, sleeping like a babe, thanks to a bop on the noggin courtesy of yours truly!'

Behind the scenes, Faith Russell, 12, who attends Good Shepherd School in Boring, is in charge of moving various set pieces, including a banner and a bush, during the play.

'I just love to serve, and it's really fun to be part of these great shows even if you're not acting,' she says.

She adds, however, that she and her three sisters all possess a flair for dramatics, and that she would prefer to be in front of the spotlight. Faith notes that she's performing in her school's production of 'Schoolhouse Rock Live!'

'I just love to act,' she says. 'I don't have to worry about what anyone thinks.'

Malana McKennett, 16, of Gresham, is also working backstage. Like Faith, Malana would prefer to be on stage and says she just finished playing a 'braniac' in the Christian Youth Theater's Vancouver East production of 'High School Musical.' She adds that she enjoys dancing especially.

'It's active, and you get to move around.'

Like a number of people drawn to the theater, she says she likes to immerse herself in a character.

'I don't mind being on stage as a character. I hate being in front of people as myself.'

Ellie also likes delving into different worlds through acting.

'It's just fun to act like somebody you're not and the whole atmosphere of costumes and different sets.'

She's not sure how she'll handle opening night.

'During rehearsal, I'm not nervous. In front of an audience I'm not sure.'

Dore, of Sauvie Island, is enjoying directing the young people. A 2005 graduate of Cornerstone University in Michigan, Dore studied theater and likes sharing it with teenagers and children.

'The little ones are so different from the big ones, they're just excited to be on stage. The older ones have just been a joy to direct, to see what they develop on their own has been just a blast.'

Robin Hood: The Musical

Presented by: Christian Youth Theater Portland Eastside

Where: Barlow High School Auditorium, 5105 S.E. 302nd Ave.

When: 9 a.m. and 11: 30 a.m. Friday, March 14. Special shortened shows for $6.

Regular shows:

7 p.m. Friday, March 14

3 p.m. Saturday, March 15

7 p.m. Friday, March 21

3 p.m. Saturday, March 22

Cost: Adults, $11

Seniors and children, $8

Groups of 10 or more, $8 per person

For more information: Visit cytvancouver.com or call 360-750-8550.