As costume designer for Hanford High's production of Robin Hood, which opened May 9 in Richland, sophomore Zach Harper's work takes shape long before the curtain goes up.
"Not a lot of people pay attention to who does costumes, so it's really cool that I get (to talk with the Herald)," Harper said.
There are definitely pros to creating the wardrobe, he said. "For one, I've never worked with this era (Medieval period England) before. It's a great learning experience not just for the costumes but for the history behind it all."
Watching rehearsals develop into a well-directed and acted stage play is one of the pleasures of the job, he said.
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"I love listening to the improvements the actors make," Harper said. "I have a lot of responsibility put on me when I'm creating the costumes, and it's reassuring to know I have so many people to help me along the way."
Robin Hood is codirected by Deb Donahoe and Peggy Painter, both of whom couldn't be prouder of Harper's costume designs.
"Costuming is time-consuming and too often assumed to be obvious and even simple," Donahoe said. "The truth could not be more different.
"Zach has been busy nearly every day figuring out the right look for our production, pulling costumes from stock over and over as things are tried on, accepted or rejected, modifying sizes or designs, keeping things straight in dressing rooms, leading the costumers in sewing. He is never not busy and is so pleasant to work with."
Student actors playing the lead roles are Tyler Zirker as Robin Hood, Shane Morrow as Will Scarlet, Clive LePage as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Quinn Hanrahan as Queen Eleanor, Zach Pawlowski as King John, Katie Evans as Marian Harper, Caleb Andrus as Guy of Gisbourne, Jake Freeman as Little John and Eli Juntunen as Friar Tuck.
The play opens with King John needing money to fight a war in France. He relies on the devious Nottingham to collect the funds needed from the already poor peasants who live in the kingdom.
That is, until the notorious outlaw Robin Hood and his band of merry men embark on a quest to relieve the wealthy of their riches and distribute them among the poor.
So King John orders Nottingham to find the outlaws and toss them into dungeons. But Robin Hood is much too clever to get caught, especially when he has his beloved Maid Marian helping him -- when she isn't doing her duty as Queen Eleanor's lady in waiting.
"Though this play is an action comedy that's 800 years old, the nobility and the poor (depicted in the play) still speak loudly to people today," Painter said. "There is greed in the world, injustice, but there also are those who put their lives in jeopardy to do what they believe is right."
The set construction plays a huge part in setting the scene for Robin Hood, the directors say. And who better than Hanford High drama teacher Matt Leggett to take charge of the play's technical aspects.
"There will be a remarkable transformation of our auditorium," Donahoe said. "Choreographer Anna Newberry has made this a fantastic experience for our actors."
The actors will use broadswords, daggers, axes, pikes, bows and arrows, sticks, frying pans and their fists when the brawling between good and evil begins.
"Anna's (fight) choreography is a thing of beauty, with so much happening in the big fights that people will want to come back and see what they missed the first time," Painter said.
Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. May 9-10 and 16-17 in the Hanford High auditorium, 450 Hanford St., Richland. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. The play is rated PG-13 because of the swashbuckling violence.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com; Twitter: @dorioneal