The Northeast State Theatre Department will take audiences through an old coat closet into the strange nature-world of Narnia with its spring production of the C.S. Lewis classic: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The production will recreate the magic and mystery of Aslan, the great lion, his struggle with the White Witch, and the adventures of four children who inadvertently wander from an old wardrobe into the never-to-be-forgotten land of Narnia. The story is one of love, faith, courage, giving, and the triumph of good over evil.
“Our goal is to create a totally original production of the play,” said Brad McKenzie, technical director. “Since nature plays such a large role, we’ve taken an organic bent and tried to incorporate wood and other elements of nature to help tell the story. It won’t be childish, but it will maintain the child-like wonder that’s inherent in the original story.”
The action features chases, duels, and escapes as the witch is determined to keep Narnia in her possession and to end the reign of Aslan. All the memorable episodes from the story will unfold: the temptation of Edmund by the witch, the slaying of the evil wolf by Peter, the witnessing of Aslan’s resurrection by Susan and Lucy, and the crowning of the four new rulers of Narnia.
The memorable supporting characters are also here: the unicorn, the centaur, and other forest animals, as well as Father Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and the faun, Tumnus.
The set will feature two, 13-foot tall arches and four large panels of material that will use multiple arrangements and lighting to adapt to various settings. McKenzie said stage hands dressed as wood nymphs will set the stage as needed and then fade back into nature.
A unique aspect of the production will be sound, which will be created solely by the actors or crew members – and require deft timing. For example, as the actors crunch through the woods or snow, a crew member will create the sound of footsteps off-stage.
“We think it ideas like this will make the production unique and be something that no one’s seen before,” McKenzie said. “We know we have a challenge presenting this story because it’s well-known, so we’re looking to stray from convention.”
The set is totally designed by students and all the actors are Northeast State students, McKenzie said. He said there are eight student-designers and 20-25 cast members.
The play was dramatized for the stage by Joseph Robinette from the story by C.S. Lewis. The novel was the first installment of Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series. First published in 1950, it has long been a youth-fiction staple. Time magazine placed the book on its 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels.
The play is being brought to the Northeast State stage courtesy of Dramatic Publishing. The play is being directed by Northeast State’s own Elizabeth M. Sloan, theatre department chair.
The show will be presented at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on two successive weekends of April 3-6 and April 10-13. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., April 3-5 and April 10-12. Matinee performances begin at 2 p.m., April 6 and 13.
Tickets are $10 general admission with senior and students priced at $8. Tickets for children under 12 are $6. Performances are free to current Northeast State students, but they must pick up tickets at the box office.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.NortheastState.edu or at the theatre box office one hour prior to the show. The house opens 30 minutes before show time.
The performing arts center is located at 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.
For more information, contact Northeast State Theatre at 423.354.2479 or e-mail emsloan@NortheastState.edu.
As a bonus attraction, pop-culture historian Stephanie Murray will give free presentations about the book on April 10 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the performing arts center.
Murray, is an education specialist with a passion for mythology, will explore the novel’s influence on pop culture. Murray holds a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Religious Studies from Lees-McRae College. She currently serves as an educational advisor for adult learners in North Carolina.