Cornerstone Youth Theatre is prepping to present the magical world of Narnia the Musical onstage, opening March 8th at New Life Fellowship.
Additional shows run March 9th and March 15th-17th with curtain at 7 p.m. Matinees also run March 9th, March 16th and March 17th at 3 p.m.
The first and most famous story of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis has become a musical presentation of this enchanted world filled with creatures and spirits of myth and fable, both good and evil.
The principal inhabitants, however, are the intelligent talking animals ruled by the majestic King Aslan, the great lion of Narnia, notes a release.
“Though Aslan is often absent from the land (so that his very existence is doubted by some), he returns when the need for him is greatest. And entering Narnia at a moment of high adventure are some children — plucked from our world in unexpected ways to help Narnia and to learn from their Narnia odyssey lessons of courage, unselfishness and wisdom that will help them grow.
“Narnia wants to sing, and from the opening song Aslan’s on the Move to the joy of Narnia (You Can’t Imagine), your spirits will soar with all those in Narnia.”
Based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (the first of Lewis’s seven Chronicles of Narnia) and directed by Kyle Mills, this production also includes about a dozen engaging songs woven into the storyline.
The production features a cast of 61 with Aslan being played by Tanner Duduman, Eden Woodward as the White Witch, True Baker as Peter, Jasmine Filiatrault as Susan, Cole Goyan as Edmund and Katie Calder as Lucy.
“When I worked with a theatre company in the states, and when my kids were involved, we did this production of Narnia,” explained Stephanie Orr, artistic director for Cornerstone.
“Each time we’ve done it, it’s been really well received by audiences and it’s a great show for our students to either learn in or showcase their talents. It’s well-written for a group like us,” she added of the show, which was penned by Jules Tasca with music by Thomas Tierney and lyrics by Ted Drachman. “They are all pretty mainstream Broadway and off Broadway writers,” she said of the talented trio.
“I know they had a really successful run on the west end and then that original cast came to off Broadway in New York and had another successful run there as well before they released it for others to do.”
Cornerstone also tackled the show back in 2011.
“We were much younger and much smaller, but again, it was very well received,” she said, adding that time is indeed right to re-visit the classic tale. As to the tunes, they are challenging but the kids and directors are more than up to the task of shaping them into polished pieces.
“Some parts are jazzy and there are also some pretty strong ballads. There is also some pretty wicked chanting,” she added with a laugh.
“We are really excited to have that aspect to it.”
As to the enduring magic of Narnia in general, Orr believes part of it stems from the strengths and insights of Lewis’s own writing.
There are strong Christian aspects of course to the story which shine through. “I also think that Lewis wrote in such a way that he just invites you into this mystical world where some things seem very familiar and some things seem very bizarre.
“To me, when I read the Chronicles of Narnia to my kids, it was like there was a lot of allegory in there, but you never feel like you are being preached at.
“You feel like you are discovering a world and in that discovery, I feel like some strings are pulled that really resonate with you.
“If you pay attention to what the actors are saying, it makes you think while your watching. It entertains you, but it makes you think, too,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the cast is also having a blast delving into such a rich world that Lewis created.
“Some of our shows are very comic and broad. This one, for our kids, is kind of fun because some of them get to play pure evil. Some of them get to be sweet little animals. But there are a good portion of them who are learning to play a broader spectrum of emotions,” she said of the complexities resonating throughout some of the roles.
“They are enjoying the drama of it,” she said. “Our artistic team is challenging these kids the way I’ve not seen them challenged in past productions.”
She’s also quick to credit the helpful families who volunteer so much time into these exceptional shows.
“Whatever happens on stage is such a reflection of 60 families running the gauntlet for seven weeks,” she said. “That form of commitment brings such a level of excitement and such a level of surprise.”
Tickets are $15 at the door, and can also be purchased in advance online at www.cornerstoneyouththeatre.org or by calling 403-986-2981.