Royal Bay puts imaginative take on classic C.S. Lewis tale

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe hits the stage this week

Magic, wonder and the mysterious world of Narnia are coming to Royal Bay Secondary school next week.

The school’s senior acting class is putting on an adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s fantasy novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with performances starting Thursday, Jan. 18.

“The play is about the journey of growing up,” said director Melissa Young, who was originally approached to direct a version of the play at the Chemainus Theatre in the summer. She then re-adapted the story for her class at the school.

“I think that before they enter the wardrobe, they’re younger children and as they go through some of the challenges in Narnia they grow and learn about responsibility, they learn about bravery, they learn about what it means to have love and forgiveness.”

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which was first published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950, four English children – Peter (played by Ryan Short), Susan (Sam Westhaver), Edmund (Noah Bandet) and Lucy (Statia Beninger) Pevensie – are relocated to a large, old country house as part of a World War II evacuation of London. After discovering a magical wardrobe, the siblings are transported to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

The play, which is suitable for kids Grade 3 and up, contains the main elements that fans of C.S. Lewis have come to know and love, said Young.

“The essence and the heart of the story are definitely there in the adaptation,” she said. “They can expect the story that they’ve read and they’re also going to see an imaginative take on that classic tale. There’s a lot of physical theatre.”

While some students admit playing younger characters has been a challenge, after roughly four months of rehearsals, the 30-person cast are ready to hit the stage.

“I want the kids to take away more a sense of adventure. If you look for it, things can be magical,” said Beninger, a Grade 11 student. “For adults, it’s a story that’s been around for quite some time, I’m pretty sure most people have heard of Narnia, I want them to [have] a bit of nostalgia.”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe hits the stage at the Teechamitsa Theatre on Jan. 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 20 at 2 p.m., which will include a sign interpreted performance for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $10.50 for students and seniors, and $5 for SD62 students, and can be purchased at the door or by calling the school at 250-474-2377.

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