THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Pit & Balcony Explores the Thematic Magic of C.S. Lewis’ Contemporary Classic
16th November, 2017 0
Consistent with their trend in recent years to present holiday productions that emanate from a spotlight outside the conventional space of traditional Christmas fare, Pit & Balcony community theatre is presenting an exciting new dramatization of C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe that is certain to engage a broad mix of young and older audiences with this magical tale that unravels the 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 exciting and unforgettable land of Narnia.
Adapted from the best known of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia series written between 1950 and 1956, Narnia is a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that one White Witch has ruled for 100 years and has vowed to keep frozen in a state of perpetual winter. She has ordered all Narnians to turn in any humans ("Sons of Adam" or "Daughters of Eve") they come across; and it is from here the tapestry of content that metaphorically explores larger and more deeply seated conflicts of morality between good & evil evolves.
With performances set for December 1-3 & 8-10 and under the meticulous eye of first-time Midland-based Pit director Aidan Montgomery, who started his own regional theatrical company The Passion Theatre Group about a year ago, and also served as the assistant director for P&B’s production of Heathers last year, core cast members consist of Audrey Espionza as Lucy Pevensie, Sean Kally as Edmund Pevensie, Hadley Gorsline as Susan Pevensie, Jordan Snelenberger as Peter Pevensie, and Andrea Howes as the White Witch, with Kelly Gray as Aslan and Spencer Beyerlein as Mr. Beaver.
“Narnia is a very well-known tale and not your conventional holiday production, “notes Aidan when asked about his vision for this latest P&B presentation, “and what I love to do is put on shows that mean a lot to people. So many people have grown up and are still growing up with Narnia and parents read these tales to their children, so they become a huge part of their life. My main goal is to bring that magic and nostalgia to the stage for all generations to enjoy.”
While different theatrical adaptations of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe exist, including a musical version that each render Lewis’ work different, this upcoming P&B version adapted by Joseph Robinette was originally a one-act production, which Aidan says will be staged in two-acts.
“This version is very straightforward and sticks to the story; but one of the challenges for me is being able to slow it down and emphasize the important parts of the narrative, so we’re adding some different elements to aid with the transitioning between scenes,” he explains.
“The big thing for me in this play is the thematic symbolism,” continues Aidan. “On one level, it can be viewed as the story of Jesus sacrificing himself for sinners and resurrecting them and conquering evil; but for people that don’t believe that narrative, it can still be viewed as a story of sacrifice and redemption and good conquering evil, so it’s important for me to emphasize those kinds of things, especially with the final battle scene.”
With nearly 60 actors turning out for audition, dealing with a cast of 18 actors is also a new experience for Aidan, insofar as previously the shows he’s directed have featured no more than four roles. “It’s been a really good experience directing all the actors in this production, because each of them are committed to bringing the vision of this production to life.”
“The biggest challenge is bringing out all the themes because of the expansive scope of the narrative,” reflects Aidan. “We had to go through the script that basically moves scene-to-scene and find the right places to add different dramatic transitions, or blocking it a different way to make things flow better. I’m fortunate because the production team is a dream team. The challenges we face never leave us feeling like we can’t accomplish or do something as we envision it.”
Finally, when asked what he feels distinguishes The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe from the most within the mosaic of contemporary theatre, Aidan reiterates the expansive framework of its scope.
“We’ve discussed this a lot with the cast and on one hand, The White Witch can be symbolically viewed as the Devil, but she’s a lot more human than that. She’s a representation of all the bad in the world, but still has a human center that initially was good. Her sense of losing control or not feeling she has any control and wanting to retain it or reclaim it is through the mechanism of fear. I think Aslan and the Witch are almost like siblings and the witch is a fallen angel that Aslan wants to bring back and save. But when it comes down to saving her or the people, Aslan’s loyalties fall with the people.”
“I think the biggest draw to this production is that it appeals to all ages,” concludes Aidan. “For children, it’s the fantastical world of talking animals, adventure, and action; plus, our costuming is going to be first-rate. We’ll even be featuring a mechanical centaur. For adults, it means a lot more because they will be able to sink deeper into the story; but for all ages it will definitely be an engaging experience.”
Pit & Balcony’s production of ‘The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe’ will be staged December 1-2-3 and Dec. 8-9-10. For tickets go to PitandBalconyTheatre.com or phone 989-754-6587.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)