Students from both sides of the Ohio will be performing on-stage through the Guild Builders youth theater program at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg.
This year's show, "Robin Hood: The Musical," will be presented at 8 p.m. March 4, 5 and 11 and 2:30 p.m. March 12 and 13 at the Actors Guild Playhouse, 724 Market St., Parkersburg.
The entire cast and crew of the production features over 50 fourth- through ninth-grade students from the Mid-Ohio Valley. They have been meeting every Saturday morning since September to learn all aspects of the theater arts.
The free six-month Saturday morning program offers weekly instruction and participation in areas that include acting; singing; movement and dance; set, props and costume design and construction; lighting and sound; marketing art design; makeup; directing; stage management; and playwriting.
In the show, Robin Hood is the outlaw of Sherwood Forest, leading a merry life with his followers. Anyone needing a place to live or food to eat is welcome in the greenwood. Impoverished citizens led by Robin are waging a battle against the evil Prince John, who has taken the place of King Richard the Lion-Hearted. Lady Merle of Cornwall, however, hopes to make John more acceptable to the people of England by forcing Maid Marian, Robin's childhood sweetheart, to marry the prince. It's up to Robin to stop the marriage, defeat a nasty sheriff and secure Nottingham for the king's return.
Ben Wilson, 14, of Belpre, is playing the lead role of Robin Hood in his second year with Guild Builders.
If you go
What: Guild Builders production of "Robin Hood: The Musical."
When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 4 and 11; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13.
Where: Actors Guild Playhouse, 724 Market St., Parkersburg.
Who: More than 50 fourth- through ninth-grade students from the Mid-Ohio Valley make up the cast and crew.
Tickets: $7 for adults, $5 for students through college.
For more information or reservations: (304) 485-1300 or www.actorsguildonline.com
"This is a really great experience for me; it's my first experience with stage combat. ... Everyone's getting really excited for opening night," he said.
K.T. Macchia, 12, of Vincent, is participating in Guild Builders for the first time this year, performing as a fair tumbler and as a follower of Robin Hood. She had been growing more interested in learning how to act when her mother found out about the Guild Builders program.
"I've enjoyed the experience very much," she said. "The clown class, where you get to act like clowns, was my favorite."
Bentley Singleton, 14, of Rockport, W.Va., is also in her first year with Guild Builders. She enjoyed attending last year's production of "Fiddler on the Roof," so she decided to join the program this year. She has no prior play experience and is working as assistant stage manager on the crew for this year's program.
"It's been interesting," Singleton said. "It's basically what I wanted to be. I wanted to work behind the scenes so I could get the feel for it," adding that she also wants to be part of the on-stage cast in the future.
Abigail Ida, 14, of Vincent, is in her fourth year with Guild Builders.
"I love the joy of acting and performing for other people, and plus it's a lot of fun and they teach you a whole lot of stuff," she said. "We keep learning stuff each year and building on to what we've known."
Joshua Moretto, 14, of Newport, plays Kaspar and one of the soldiers. He is in his fourth year with Guild Builders.
"I loved them all," he said. "We got to be clowns for a day, and we got to write scripts that the younger kids could perform."
Barbara Ream is the Guild Builders program coordinator and director for this year's production. She served as assistant director for several previous productions and is enjoying the experience as director for the current musical.
Ream said each year Guild Builders tries to pick a musical that will build on what students have learned that year and in previous years. "Robin Hood" was chosen this year partly to give students a chance to learn about stage combat, including staff fighting, swordfighting and bow shooting.
"It's been a lot of fun to see the kids be able to take part in that," she said.
Ream believes the Guild Builder program offers benefits to the children beyond the performance skills they acquire, helping to build confidence that can carry over to many other parts of their lives.
"It's a lot of fun, and it's fun to perform, but it's also learning a lot of life skills that they can use later," she said.
In previous years, each performance was preceded by a short mini-play produced by the Guild Builders Playwriting and Producing class. This year, Ream said the class decided to use that time instead on more preparation for their backstage roles and responsibilities.