LEWISTON – L/A Arts will bring Signstage On Tour’s presentation of “Robin Hood: Thief of Hearts” to Lewiston Middle School Friday, April 29. It’s a magical family show created by performing a play in two languages at the same time A cast of deaf and hearing actors simultaneously combine the spatial beauty of American Sign Language with spoken English.

Rich in visual effects, the stage is filled with the movements of hands and bodies, yet every word is spoken to make sure that all audience members, deaf or hearing, don’t miss a thing.

Bill Morgan, the show’s producer, said the Signstage national tour has been in Louisiana this week. It’s moving up the East Coast with stops in New Jersey and New York prior to the Lewiston performance.

Robin Hood is played by a hearing actor; Lady Marion is deaf. The Sheriff of Nottingham is a hearing actor and Prince John is deaf. A fifth on-stage character and a stage manager round out the six-member troupe.

It’s the familiar story of Robin Hood and his merry band of thieves who save England from royal treachery during the absence of King Richard the Lion-Hearted.

Robin and his Sherwood Forest followers outwit the arrogance of the Sheriff of Nottingham by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but the Prince of Thieves meets his match when he steals the Heart Pendant belonging to the fair Lady Marion. They were childhood friends, but time and circumstances have kept them apart until Robin ambushes a group of Norman knights. This chance meeting brings Robin face to face with his long-lost love, and now it’s Robin’s heart that gets stolen.

“Robin Hood: Thief of Hearts” is geared toward children from kindergarten through seventh grade and their families.

“The most critical part of this production was the design phase,” Morgan said, explaining that props and scenery had to be designed for use in “a whole mess of venues.” Sometimes the show plays a school gymnasium or other area without a stage. In these cases, the performers know how to do the show without the backdrops or the entrance and exit lighting effects, Morgan said.

However, for the show at Lewiston Middle School Auditorium, the full staging with 25-by-30-foot country and forest scenes will be used.

Morgan said he never misses a chance to perform at schools for deaf children, and often he does it “for almost nothing.” He said it’s a thrill to give them a show “in their own language.”

Next year’s national tour production will be “Beauty and the Beast,” Morgan said. In past years, Sign Stage Theatre has done versions of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda,” both of which are stories by Roald Dahl, as well as a production of “Aladdin.”

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Signstage Theatre was founded by a hearing actor and a deaf actor in 1975. Since then, Signstage has performed 93 professional Mainstage plays, winning many awards. It has participated in international arts festivals in Russia, the Czech Republic, Jordan and at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

“L/A Arts is always trying to find ways to reach the community,” said Cheri Donahue, marketing director for L/A Arts. “This show touches people in different ways. We have already had a great response from the hearing-impaired community,” she added.

“Robin Hood: Thief of Hearts” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, April 29, at the Lewiston Middle School, 75 Central Avenue. Advance tickets are $7.50 and a family pack of four tickets is $25. For more information, call L/A Arts at 782-7228.

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