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TO’s Young Company presenting The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

August 18, 2016   ·   0 Comments

“The Witch is a psychopath – and the Lion is the creator of Narnia – really, like God.”

This was the summary of the “polar opposite” forces working against each other in the land of Narnia, the basis of the story of the Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, as offered by this year’s cast with Young Company.

All this makes the story – the play – heroic, mystic, terrifying, thrilling, philosophical and creepy! Spots of humour and fight scenes: an all-rounder, if ever there was one. For the adults among you, the nostalgia will be wonderful, to “bring back their childhood with this classic story,” as the company members told us. For the younger members of the family, especially those just making their first acquaintance of this remarkable cast of characters, it will be a fine adventure into a world of imagination.

As a synopsis: after many years of its Lion creator’s absence, the land beyond the wardrobe, Narnia, has been held in a frozen state of perpetual winter by the terrible Witch Jadis – she with the penchant for turning her enemies into stone.

When little Susan, the youngest of four children who have been shipped off to the countryside to avoid the blitz in London, during the war, slips through the back of the  wardrobe into this magic land, she nearly meets terrible danger. However, she is released back into the “real” world, where, child-like, she tells her siblings – Peter, Edmund  and Lucy – of her adventure. Although they naturally do not believe her, they all soon fall through the same back wall of the wardrobe to face danger, challenge and the destiny that is theirs in that magical, mythical place.

How to face down that “terrifying witch” and rescue a kingly Lion who has neglected his kingdom for so many years? How to react to the many talking animals and other creatures whom they meet in their travels and battles?

The cast of this season’s drama production with Young Company boasts more young men than ladies for the first time in many years. As always, there are those who see the theatre as their life’s work and others who, while they have a love for the fun and camaraderie of the theatre, actually plan other careers.

Theatre is a life choice for Duncan Lang, who has done several shows with Young Company, both the musicals and the dramas.

His comment was, “This is a safe environment – it’s my second home. Who doesn’t love giving up their summer to do something they love?”

Duncan plays the role of Asian, the Lion. Of the character, he said, “In many ways, he’s humble even though he is the creator of Narnia.

“The kids are getting lost in this magical world – so there’s another layer of realism in the fiction. We’re doing stuff in the audience too – that’s part of the show.”

It is always interesting to know where the young actors stand in their relationship with the theatre, specifically Young Company. Some of them, like Josie and Harrison, have participated in the theatre arts programs and workshops offered by Theatre Orangeville to young people during the school year and wanted to progress to a full production with Young Company.

Others have come to see the shows, both those produced by Young Company and the regular winter/spring season of Theatre Orangeville. Going to see the shows during its season is another draw to many young people to want to “do that.” In all events, interest in theatre, whether as a participant, on stage as an actor or behind the stage, doing the creative work of the designers and the technicians; as an enthusiastic patron, subscriber – audience member – it is essential that young people learn to love it early in life so that theatre can continue its good work of telling stories and giving vitality to the community.

Back to Narnia. What fascinates these actors about the story are the assorted characters they are portraying: talking animals and strange creatures, each with particular ways of speaking and mannerisms. They are in the middle of a fantasy world, a complete departure from anything like a “normal” world and the fun of making it happen is tremendous..

“It’s a cool story with a lot of different personalities coming together,” one told us.

Of course, they love the fight scenes – the ballet of it, with Ian Walsh, stage fight choreographer,  as their director for those parts. It is easy to get hurt but not hard to learn how to do it right. 

There is a prophecy about how and who will bring an end to the tyranny of Jadis, the Witch. This is an important element to the story and the importance of the  role the children play in the effort to rescue Narnia and its inhabitants.

For the back stage labour, Beckie Morris has designed the set and is supervising the construction being done by students; Vandi Simpson and Jan Walsh are making the costumes which are not full hairy animals but – well, come and see the play.

Why come and see it? It is a grand classical tale, well told and in full flood on stage.

And, of course, as Lucas Rohner-Tensee told us, “I’m in it.”

What more could we want?

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is playing for one weekend only Friday, August 26 through Sunday, August 28 at the Opera House. For tickets and information call the Box Office on 519-942-3423, tickets at the Town Hall and Information Centre on Buena Vista or online at www.theatreorangeville.ca

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