PSF ‘Robin Hood’ fun introduction to theater
The director of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival production of “The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian” says the show is intended as a fun introduction to theater for childen.
“The basic nature of the story is not complicated, so hopefully it’s a chance for children to see a live performance that is really unique to them,” says Director Matt Pfeiffer, a Philadelphia-born actor and DeSales University graduate.
“Introducing kids to the theater at three-years-old helps them understand the value of live performances. It’s an hour-long program, so the ability for us to keep their attention is there.” Pfeiffer says.
“The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian” opened PSF’s 28th season May 31 in Shubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, where it continues through Aug. 3.
The play, written by Brandon E. McLauren, is based on the traditional tale of Robin Hood, who, with Maid Marian and a merry band of adventurers, seeks freedom and vitality in Sherwood Forest by righting wrongs.
Children can get a front row seat with on-stage carpet seating, bringing the adventure right into their laps. After the show, children and families can meet the cast for autographs and photos.
The play is performed by PSF’s Young Company, a long-standing educational opportunity for theater majors at DeSales. Student actors may also appear in PSF Main Stage performances.
DeSales students in lead roles in “The Adventures” are Mark Yowakim (Robin Hood) and Mackenzie Moyer (Maid Marian).
Joining them in the cast are Taylor Congdon, Kailey Edwards, Megan Fry, Angela LaRose, Iykechi McCoy, Jayce Meredith, Gabe Moses, Alyssa Ramsey, Matt Smaldone, and Jhalil-Marquis Younger.
Says Pfeiffer, “I attribute my success to good training. I went to school at DeSales University and got my start at the Shakespeare Festival. Doing those plays at 19, 20 21-years-old, I learned the art of collaboration.”
Pfeiffer’s credits include: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Arden Theatre; “Hand to God,” Philadelphia Theatre Company; “Buzzer,“ Theatre Exile, and “Constellations,” Gulfshore Playhouse.
His other credits include: InterAct Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, 1812 Productions, Lantern Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, UArts and 19 seasons with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.
He is a 12-time Barrymore Award nominee and recipient for his direction of “The Whale” and “The Invisible Hand,” both with Theatre Exile, and a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award.
“I started as an actor and became a director over time. Learning and understanding every aspect of the art of acting and directing has helped shape my career and this journey. I was exposed in the right way and that’s why I’ve been successful,” says Pfeiffer.
“The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian” includes student actors playing guitar, ukulele and drums. The costumes are medieval-inspired with a contemporary twist, which helps the children relate.
Says Pfeiffer, “We are trying to raise kids in a more inclusive environment. They don’t have to be merry men. They can be a merry band. This doesn’t have to be a boys’ club.
“Women, girls, should know they are fully capable of playing with the boys on the same level. Maid Marian is very equal to Robin Hood in this show.
“The basic legend is the same, but it’s a story that takes interpretation and just like the popular movie versions of the story are all very different, this is, too.
“The environment of the play is one that is a lot of fun and is very much in reference to Shakespeare,” Pfeiffer says.
When asked what Pfeiffer hopes the audience takes away from the performance, he says, “The tale of Robin Hood really is about taking care of those in need, looking out for your neighbor.
“There is a great value in the lesson throughout the play that I hope people walk away recognizing. It’s fun and funny, but I hope that the core message of what Robin Hood is seeking to bring to the world is heard,” Pfeiffer says.
The July 27 performance has audio description for those who are blind or visually-impaired and American Sign Language interpretation for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There’s a relaxed performance June 28 for those with sensory differences, including individuals on the autism spectrum.
Tickets: Labuda Center for the Performing Arts lobby box office, DeSales University, 2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley; pashakespeare.org/psf_tickets.php; 610-282-WILL (9455)