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Action, banter in Robin Hood aim to please whole family
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‘Robin Hood’

When: Public performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Oct. 9, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday
Where: Pearce Auditorium at Brenau University, 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville
How much: $10-12 for adults and $7-8 for children
More info: Call 678-717-3624 or visit the Gainesville Theatre Alliance

When you hear the shrill "ting!" of swords in the new WonderQuest production of "Robin Hood," that’s not a well-cued sound effect.

It is real metal on metal, coming from specially choreographed clashes among swashbuckling young men.

"It’s certainly not a boring show because you have three different fights," said Connor Hammond, a Brenau University senior who choreographed the three types of fight scenes found throughout the play — contests using daggers, classic swords and unarmed.

But the "ting" of the swords was a specific sound Hammond and director Gaye Hammond said they found while trying out different weapons. It’s more like a long-handled Starfire broadsword, Connor said, used in fights similar to what’s seen in the movie "Troy," where warriors would use side-to-side movements in battle.

"So I wanted to come up with something that would suit this weapon, but wouldn’t be clunky like the traditional Medieval, ‘RRRRR! THUMP!’" he said, mimicking the slow, hard movements of typical Medieval sword fights.

Instead, "They are movements and maneuvers so we can thrust in a clean and safe way."

But there is much more than sword fighting in "Robin Hood." Characters sing, fall in love, banter enough for grown-ups to appreciate the story and even show off archery skills for the kids in the audience.

"It’s very adventuresome, very funny. We want a wide range of ages to enjoy it," said Hammond, who is also the director of WonderQuest, the children’s theater arm of Gainesville Theatre Alliance. Along with the family performances, the show will be performed for school audiences.

It is the classic Robin Hood tale, where he and his band of merry men fight for the rights of the common man — and the rightful king to England’s throne.

Emily Barnes, a sophomore at Brenau who plays Maid Marian, said she enjoys the audience interaction she’s able to do in a WonderQuest performance.

"You get to be more interactive; you can look at the audience more," she said.

And then there’s the swashbuckling action to keep kids of all ages engaged.

Connor said it was tricky working with the choreography of the fight scenes. One fight involves the entire cast, which was blocked out before it was brought to the stage — and then, he said, they realized there were props in places they hadn’t figured.

"Working with set pieces was more challenging," he said. "We had another level of choreography once we got to the set."

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