As drama students at W.L. Seaton’s 27th Street Theatre Company, and anyone who has ever read C.S. Lewis’ beloved fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, knows: entering a magical closet can be quite an adventure, and never accept Turkish Delight from an ice queen.
And now children and adults alike will be able to follow Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter through the wardrobe and into the magical world of Narnia when Seaton presents The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe next week.
The students have been busy since September immersed in a world where magical centaurs, unicorns, talking beavers and, of course, Mr. Tumnus, the lovable faun, frolic in an eternal winter wonderland.
“It was important for me not to costume the students in furry animal body suits. They are partially human and partially animal. We call them man-imals,” said Seaton drama teacher Lana O’Brien, who is directing the show.
A classic story of good vs. evil, the history behind Narnia has an even deeper connotation, and a lesson important for the students involved to learn, added O’Brien.
The original Lewis story had many religious and political overtones, although O’Brien says she has toned some of those down in the play, but the message still rings true.
“The lessons in this story transcend time and place,” she said. “Lewis created an amazing way for children of that generation to deal with their fears. The story is just as powerful today. We are surrounded by media images of conflicts worldwide, and this story reminds us of our humanity, and the importance of staying true to those who mean the most to us.”
The story follows British-born siblings, Lucy (played by Grade 12 student Silken Smart), Edmund (Noah Ange, Grade 9), Susan (Hailey Louis, Grade 12) and Peter (Fraser Hamilton, Grade 12), who have been evacuated from the air raids in London during the Second World War and find themselves living in a rambling mansion with an old professor in the English countryside.
During one of their explorations, the youngest child, Lucy, finds an enormous wardrobe, which is the portal to the magical kingdom of Narnia.
The adventure begins when she encounters Mr. Tumnus (Gabriel Pratico, Grade 12), and shortly after, Edmund follows and, unfortunately for him, is met at first by the evil White Witch (Vilde Skauge-Monsen) who is determined to stop the prophesy of the four children who will bring down her evil reign.
“None of the students knew going in about the thousands of children who were evacuated out of the cities during the war. Many were never re-united with their families. The threat of evil was very real,” said O’Brien. “The King of Narnia, Aslan (the lion in the title, played by Alex Corzo-Johnstone), also reminds us that we have all made mistakes in our lives, but those mistakes do not mean that we are not worth rescuing.”
The story is also an international one, and so it is apt that Norwegian student Skauge-Monsen, who came to Canada specifically to study theatre, plays the White Witch.
“The international program offered her two schools, one in Ontario, and our own Seaton Secondary,” said O’Brien. “It was quite an honour for us to learn that we had that kind of reputation. It makes the hours of work, and sacrificing time away from family and friends kind of easier to take when you hear things like that.”
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe opens Tuesday and runs nightly to Saturday at 8 p.m. A matinée will also take place Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students/seniors, and can be reserved by calling the school at 250-542-3361 (ext 2227).