Robin Hood, with a twist

Warren Haley, right, is acting in his debut production with Prince Albert Community Players. He plays Richard Collins, a small town newspaper publisher who exposed a corrupt mayor. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Play to depict old cons showing corrupt mayor new tricks

This week’s production of the Robin Hood Caper put on by the Prince Albert Community Players will highlight a handful of firsts.

The comedy, written by Fred Carmichael, consists of a large, ten-person cast with six men and four women. The cast has a variety of theatre experience, but for at least one actor, Friday will be his first time on stage.

Warren Haley is playing the role of Richard Collins. It’s one of the lead parts in the show.

“Richard Collins is somebody who left the big life in the city to start a small newspaper in a community in Wisconsin, where he found the mayor of that town was getting kickbacks from local businesses,” Haley explained.

“Richard exposed them in the paper, and now he runs the risk of losing his paper. His aunt who is a retired con artist is going back into business, so to speak, to con the paper away from the mayor and rescue the paper. Amidst all this chaos, Richard has a very aggressive fiancé who is looking to be married.”

Despite the challenges of acting for the first time in a lead role, Haley has been enjoying his time rehearsing with the community players.

“It’s exciting. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

“It has been a lot of work, and I’m at a crunch point where I’m realizing three months of rehearsing and learning something with a dozen strangers who became friends is a far cry from what we’re going to be doing in less than a week on stage in front of people. That reality impinges a little bit more on my sanity every day. I’m trying to remember to breathe lots, and it’s fun, but it’s a lot of work and I just want to get over that first performance.”

While it’s Haley’s first time on stage, it’s also director Melody Kennedy’s first time in the director’s chair. She chose the play for its humour.

“The Robin Hood Caper is about four ex-convicts, they get out of jail, and they’re now stealing from the rich and giving to the poor,” she said.

“I read about four or five different plays. This was the one I liked the best.”

Kennedy was originally concerned she wouldn’t be able to find six male and four females to be on the cast, but people made some calls, and the casting was complete.

“All kinds of people came,” she said. “This is Prince Albert. People love theatre.”

That larger cast has led to some logistical challenges. Getting that many people to rehearsal at the same time can prove challenging, especially because some live out of town. But the play is really coming together in the final days. The set was painted last week, and installed at Rivier School over the weekend.

“It’s really nice (to see it all come together),” Kennedy said.

“It’s come a long way. We have people that are very experienced actors and actresses, and we have a couple people that are first-timers.”

As the play came together, it’s been a learning experience for Kennedy, and for Haley. Kennedy said she learned a lot about what it takes to be a good director.

“Communication is really important,” she said. “And respect. Not everybody’s the same. You’ve got to really respect that. They’re all different individuals with different thoughts, different talents, different views of things and you really have considered everybody’s input. You ultimately make the final decision, but (there’s) great friendship, good teamwork and good communication.”

Haley also relied on the team atmosphere to excel.

“The only way I’m able to do this for the first time, in a lead role, with all the confidence is from all the support and help. There’s nothing but positive reassurance,” he said.

“These guys have lots of great experience. They conduct themselves in a way that they have helped me along and made it possible for me.”

Haley said while he thinks he’ll act again, he doesn’t know if he’ll go back to being the leading man.

“We’ll see what happens when I get up there and have to do the lines on stage. But yeah, absolutely, I’ll be acting again.”

Haley wants others who might be considering community theatre to join him. There are lots of opportunities with the Prince Albert Community Players, he said.

“Come and see us come and hang out,” he said.

“Check out our rehearsal or when we start in the fall. We’ll be casting for a new play. Come out. If you don’t want to do lines, you don’t want to be on stage we always need help with the crew but there are small parts, there are big parts — and come out and try it.

We do this for scholarships, which I think is great. It’s well worth the effort.”

The Robin Hood Caper is on from April 20-22 at the Rivier Theatre. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Canadian Tire. Funds raised will be directed to scholarships.