By Mackenzie Mohr
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
Area youth enjoy every moment from audition day to opening night as All-of-us Express Children’s Theatre performs Robin Hood this week.
Founded in 1989 by Evelyn Weymouth, an MSU drama alumnus, All-of-us Express aims to provide local children the opportunity to participate in quality drama productions and develop life skills while providing entertainment to East Lansing. Now under the artistic direction of Miranda Hartmann, an alumnus of the program, All-of-us Express opens three or four productions per season while hosting drama camps and workshops for actor development. In the fall of 2009, All-of-us Express merged with the City of East Lansing and is now based out of the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, where program students have access to a state-of-the-art theater, which seats more than 450.
Today, All-of-us Express uses a patented guild program with its participants because it has become a drama education program. Those who reach the highest level are able to head production crews. Many participants return to the group every season and some have been involved since they were 6 or 7 years old, said Hartmann. The director, stage manager, and make-up crew head are all alumni of All-of-us Express. Breckan Erdman, 16, of Okemos High School, plays Hilton, the sheriff’s attendant, in this week’s production of Robin Hood and has been with the group since she was 9.
This year marks the program’s 23rd season, which began with Dracula: The Vampire Play last fall and will conclude with Jolly Roger and the Pirate Queen this summer. Currently showing is Robin Hood by Larry Blaire; an adult script adapted for youth theatre to promote the actors’ character development. Three performances remain: Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 18 at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online, in person, by mail or over the phone.