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Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Merry Maids Haley Spencer, left, and Bryn Rose follow along with a script. "Robin Hood" features 113 fourth- through sixth-graders from the school and runs from March 25 through 28.

CEDAR HILLS — The folks on Broadway would love this gig: everyone who tries out gets a part.

Deerfield Elementary School is getting its fourth annual play ready, put together by an all-volunteer group of neighbors. Heading up the entourage producing "Robin Hood" with a cast of more than a hundred kids is Thomas and Rebecca Gleason.

Rebecca Gleason, with a children's library background, writes the scripts, adapting copyright-free classics. Other volunteers fall into place, sewing costumes, creating sets and even directing sword-fighting scenes. With 113 kids in the play the network of parent volunteers is vast, Gleason said.

"You'd be surprised how many closet theater people there are," she said. "We're discovering all kinds of talent."

Her husband graduated in theater from Brigham Young University and is a part-time deejay, so he handles the music and lighting.

Leads are double or triple cast per scene, while minor roles may have as many as 20 kids trading off as the play progresses. "Robin Hood," which runs March 25 through March 28, has three Robin Hoods and two Maid Marians. The creators even added a Maid Marian assistant to give several other girls a part.

Deerfield was a brand new school when the Parent Teachers Association decided to give students a theater experience. After learning about the Gleasons' background the PTA tapped them to volunteer, Rebecca Gleason said.

The first year with a budget of less than $100, the school put on "Peter Pan" for just one night.

"We didn't have the budget to pay royalties," she said.

Sixty-six children tried out for the play and parents flew into action to make costumes and scenery.

Then Rebecca Gleason decided to write her own plays so she wouldn't have to worry about royalties. Her first attempt was "Alladin," which she adapted from the classic tale. Eighty-six children showed up for that play.

Last year she spun a play out of the "Wizard of Oz" and 126 kids tried out. By the time the curtain went up 115 were in the play.

"We had four Dorothys," she said.

Producing the plays is a yearlong experience for the Gleasons. When the play ends, Rebecca Gleason will relax a few days, then start writing next year's play. Auditions are held in December and rehearsals start in January.


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