JM actors explore the world of professional theater during a walk deep into Sherwood Forest

CHAPEL HILL — More than two dozen Jordan-Matthews actors — including many who had never attended a professional production before — got an unprecedented look at how theater is created during an in-depth visit on September 28 to PlayMakers Repertory Company.

The centerpiece was a performance of “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood,” PlayMakers’ season-opening comedy. But that hit play with original music was just the evening's second act. Before the show, students explored backstage to learn how intricate theatrical productions are created and brought to life.

They explored workshops where creative professionals were busy building sets and costumes. They walked through prop storage and the green room where actors make quick costume changes and wait for their big moments on stage. They stood next to the catwalk high above PlayMakers’ smaller stage. And they even got a rare opportunity to walk through the rehearsal room where actors are preparing the theater's next production. In every space, creative professionals showed some of their work, explained their process and answered a lot of questions.

After the play, in the evening’s third and final act, focus shifted to what happens on stage. Six of the actors — Jeffrey Blair Cornell (Sir Guy), Ray Dooley (Prince John), Christine Mirzayan (Maid Marian), Tristan Parks (Sheriff of Nottingham), Joshua David Robinson (Robin Hood) and Dan Toot (Friar Tuck) — spent almost half an hour discussing their performances, providing advice and encouragement to the student artists, and answering even more questions.

Four JM actors even managed to make it onstage. At one point during the play, actors select a few audience members to join in the dancing. As Friar Tuck looked into the audience, he drew his finger across the crowd to find someone who was game. It didn’t take long. Laci Burt, Andrea Lopez, Hannah Redding and Sydney Suits quickly raised their hands, bouncing up and down on their seats seven rows up. Before Friar Tuck could finish nodding the second time, the four actors were halfway to the stage for a frolicking number in front of the packed house.

The entire evening was organized with Jeri Lynn Schulke at PlayMakers Repertory Company and Jessie Austrian, the show’s director and friend of JMArts. It was offered free of charge to students, thanks to generous contributors to JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation.

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JM actors share a photo with actors from “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood” after a post-show discussion at PlayMakers Repertory Company.

JM actors share a photo with actors from “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood” after a post-show discussion at PlayMakers Repertory Company.