Audiences are invited to walk through the wardrobe with the Pevensie children into Narnia this summer at the Stratford Festival.
C.S. Lewis’ timeless tale of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is already on stage in the theatre town, and Ann Swerdfager, the publicity director for the festival, says the production has timeless and widespread appeal.
“It is such a beautiful show, it really is. It is fun too,” she said. “It has that enduring popularity. That is what makes it a classic.”
The story was first introduced to the public in 1950, as the first in a series written by famed author, C.S. Lewis. The novels tells of factual history, while mixing in magic and wonder.
It starts in 1940 with four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, who have been sent to live with a professor in the country after a wartime evacuation. While exploring their new home, Lucy finds a wardrobe. She steps through it into the world of Narnia – a land filled with talking animals, witches and magic. They go on adventures with the White Witch, Aslan the Lion and many more before returning back to the wardrobe as though no time has passed.
Swerdfager says the story will appeal to everyone in the family.
“There has to be something universal in the story. I think that we, all of us, have that magic and wonder. We all try to dream about what else there is beyond this life and that is a rather beautiful interpretation of what lies beyond,” she said of the story’s decades-long popularity. “I am sure there are some children who might be afraid at a few moments, but to me, I sat there watching it as an adult, but I felt like a kid watching it. I had a grin on my face from ear to ear. There is just such beauty in it. It is such a simple tale in many ways, it is easy to follow no matter what age you are, and yet it expresses such simple joys with such a beautiful sense of wonder and imagination in the children.”
The cast of the show have deep theatre roots, and according to Swerdfager, play their parts beautifully.
Sara Farb plays Lucy, arguably the most prominent character in the story. She has an extensive theatre background, and has won awards, including the Calgary Theatre Critics award, for her work. Ruby Joy is cast in the role of Susan, Lucy’s older sister, and is a Stratford regular. She has worked in Shakespeare productions, studied classical theatre and more. Edmund, the third of the Pevensie children and the character who is manipulated by the White Witch, is played by Andre Morin. It is Morin’s fourth season at the festival, having appeared in classics such as Fiddler on the Roof, Romeo and Juliet and many more. Peter, the oldest of the siblings, is the voice of reason and maturity in the family. His role is played by Gareth Potter in his 13th season at Stratford.
With a strong cast, it only makes sense to have a spectacular set. The story is set, first in the old English country home, then in the winter wonderland of Narnia. Swerdfager says the stage shows the magical side of the story.
“It is truly spectacular,” she said. “I think, visually, there is so much stimulation, that even young children will get caught up in it. They won’t be bored. There is always something to watch.”
The show opened on May 10, but runs for the next few months, and shows have been added taking the performance schedule into October. For tickets, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.