With the weather getting frostier and the shorter winter days taking their toll on our sunlight hours, it is painful to imagine a world where it is always winter, but never Christmas. That, however, is the challenge facing the four lead characters in this year’s EDSS theatrical production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
If you’ve seen the movie and think you already know the story of the show, think again.
“The book is different from the stage show, which is different from the movie – just a little bit,” said Grade 12 student Matt Brodie, who plays the role of Aslan the lion in the production running Dec. 3-5.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, part of C.S. Lewis’ beloved Chronicles of Narnia, introduces us to siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, four young evacuees from war-torn London, who arrive at a rambling old country house, home of the eccentric Professor Kirke. The children are shown to the spare room, which is empty except for a large wardrobe – while the others go off exploring the house, Lucy opens the wardrobe, pushes through the fur coats and finds herself by a lamppost in a snow-covered wood. Befriended by a faun (Mr. Tumnus) who appears suddenly, she learns that she is in the strange land of Narnia, where it is permanently winter, but never Christmas, thanks to a spell cast by the wicked White Witch.
When Lucy returns from Narnia and tells the others of her adventure, they initially refuse to believe her story, but Edmund follows her into the wardrobe and meets the Witch, who promises to make him King if he leads his brother and sisters to her castle. Finally Peter and Susan also arrive, by which time the powers of evil are on the rise.
Aslan the Lion returns to Narnia to defeat the Witch and enlists the children’s help, but Edmund betrays them to the Witch and, in so doing, forfeits his life to her by the law of the Deep Magic. Aslan decides to take Edmund’s place and is tortured and killed by the Witch, only to be saved by the Deeper Magic, because he is willingly taking the place of a traitor.
“It’s pretty cool that I get to play the character that sacrifices himself in order to save the world,” said Brodie of Aslan.
But all hope is not lost. If you would like to find out what happens to Aslan and the children, Brodie encourages you to come to the show and check it out for yourself.
“This show means a lot to me personally. Acting is one of my passions – it’s one of the things I like to do most so being in these shows really gives me a thrill.”
When asked how much time the actors dedicate to a show like this one, Brodie laughs, “Not as much as we should.” To which drama teacher DJ Carroll pipes in, “It never is!”
And after almost a decade running the drama program at the high school, Carroll would know best.
Every production, especially one with a large cast, demands considerable work, and provides plenty of stressors.
“But these shows are what I work towards each year. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about teaching,” said Carroll of a schedule that include shows for Sears Drama Festival, the Grade 12s one-act play festival and a few other major projects such as the Robin in the Hood Festival.
For the students, the hard work comes with some payoffs.
“My favourite part is the friendships we make,” said Ethan Bleskie, a senior student who has performed in the school’s shows for four consecutive years. “Even though we only act like brother and sister when we’re doing this play, the cast really does become your family.”
And that family is getting set to take the stage next week for four shows which are open to the public in addition to one show specifically for EDSS students. The students will be able to participate in a ‘buy out’ where they pay $5 and are able to go see the show in the afternoon rather than attend their regular classes.
Some parents and family members of the cast have likely already pre-ordered their tickets.
“I called all my relatives this week to ask them if they were planning on coming to the show,” said Kelsey Bradley who plays the role of Susan, the older sister.
“My little sister has been helping me with remembering my lines every night so she probably knows the whole show already, but I really hope that lots of other people come out to see it as well.”
The EDSS production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe runs Dec. 3-5 in the school gym. For more information or to buy tickets to the show, call DJ Carroll at 519-669-5414, ext. 415.