Robin Hood and his merry men leapt into Enchanted Hills Elementary on Thursday, leaving the students laughing.
Albuquerque-based New Mexico Young Actors visited the school with three performances of its production “Robin Hood.” Mountain View Middle School eighth-grader Levi Bermudez played the lead role of the outlaw of Sherwood Forest.
“Everything about it is really fun,” Bermudez said of the part.
It’s a physical and mental challenge at times, he added, but still fun to play a character who jumps around and fights with whatever comes to hand.
Enchanted Hills Elementary first-graders Chase Pina and Bailey Driver saw the play Thursday.
“It was really good,” Chase said.
He liked a scene in which the sheriff of Nottingham fell while wearing red pajamas, and Bailey particularly enjoyed the fight scenes.
“I pretty much like it all,” Bailey said.
Both students said they’d watch the play again, but hesitated at the idea of being in one.
“I would be too nervous to do it,” Chase said.
Bailey said she’d be nervous, but not quite as nervous as Chase.
Paul Bower, director of “Robin Hood” and executive director of New Mexico Young Actors, said the children’s theater group sets aside about a week per semester to take productions on tour to Albuquerque Metro Area schools, typically elementaries, that book them.
“Robin Hood” garners a good reception.
“It’s a great play for kids,” Bower said.
The play is very comical, he said, and with the actors ranging from age 9-19, children in the audience enjoy seeing their peers on stage.
Adults, too, are interested. Two public performances scheduled for Saturday at the North Fourth Performing Arts Center sold out in advance.
Bower said New Mexico Young Actors formed in 1979, and he joined as the music director in 2004. The company offers basic and advanced drama classes in fall and spring semesters, plus a summer workshop.
Once youngsters finish the basic drama class, they can move on to advanced drama and audition for a play or musical.
Bermudez said he started acting in fifth grade and joined New Mexico Young Actors about a year ago. This is his first semester in advanced drama and his first play with the group.
“I just love the whole community,” he said. “It’s like another family, with how open everyone is, how caring everyone is.”
Bermudez appreciated that Bower and the rest of the cast made him feel welcome.
His advice to younger actors: “Just be yourself.”
Even when portraying someone else, it’s about who you are inside, Bermudez said.
Bower said Young Actors has 100 students this semester, the most ever. Youth have come from as far away at Belen, the East Mountains and Santa Fe to participate, he said, although most are from Albuquerque.
A class in Rio Rancho has 12 students.
“Part of our challenge is managing the growth of our company,” Bower said.
The Rio Rancho class, a newer addition, allows the group to branch out with more space and creates opportunities for West Side and City of Vision youth to participate without having to drive as far, he said.
For more information about the New Mexico Young Actors, visit nmyoungactors.org.