PREVIEW: HUTC steps through wardrobe to open season

By Michelle Embree

(Photo provided)

(Photo provided)

The Huntington University Theatre Company opens its 2013-2014 season Sept. 27 with Joseph Robinette’s dramatization of “The Lion,

the Witch and the Wardrobe” based on the novel by C.S. Lewis.

“The sacrifice of Aslan’s love for all the beings and life in Narnia is obviously a very clear allegory for Christ’s love for us, so I think it’s

a very powerful story,” director Jay Duffer said.

The play begins in England in World War II and tells the story of the four Pevensie siblings and their journey to Narnia. Narnia is a mythical land with talking animals and fantasy creatures where the White Witch has reigned for 100 years making it always winter.

“It’s a really good story about how these children gain their strength through this trial that they have to go through, and I think every child should be exposed to a story like that,” sophomore MaKenna Belt said.

Senior Josh Cookingham said he hopes the audience will “walk away with that feeling of being a child again, of being in wonder of the world and in wonder of Aslan and God’s relationship with the world.”

Most of the roles involve being either a child or an animal. This has presented a challenge for the HUTC, but a challenge they have done well at rising to meet, Duffer said.

Cookingham will be playing the role of Peter Pevensie, the oldest of the Pevensie siblings.

“Part of my approach has been just tapping into what it means to be a kid again,” he said. “[I’ve been] rediscovering that joy and wonder of entering [Narnia] and being blown away with it.”

Cookingham also said that his part has challenged him spiritually. Belt said the same about her role as the White Witch, who she described as symbolic of Satan.

“[Playing this role] brings a lot more understanding to the forefront of me personally understanding how [Satan] tempts you,” Belt said. “It’s almost better preparing me for times when I get [tempted].”

Mr. Tumnus, a faun in Narnia played by sophomore Trenidy Cox, offers  Lucy Pevensie, played by Maggie Gilliam, a cup of tea.

Mr. Tumnus, a faun in Narnia played by sophomore Trenidy Cox, offers Lucy Pevensie, played by Maggie Gilliam, a cup of tea.

Cookingham and Belt said they both are most looking forward to fight scenes they are in which involve heavy stage combat.

Duffer said while the show should be appropriate for most children, there is some violence as well as scary moments that could be frightening to young children.

The cast is still rehearsing in the acting studio. The set in the studio theater will feature a raked stage, meaning it will be at a slight angle to make more of the ground visible and will include real wood to add to the nature scenes.

“With the different angles it’s fun because if you sit in a different seat you actually experience it differently from all the angles,” senior Charles Booth, shop foreman, said.

The focus will be more on the costumes than the set though, Booth said.

Mary Zellers, the HUTC costume designer for the past five years, said her approach to costuming is “outside the box.”

Costumes for the centaur and the unicorn have been especially challenging and involve creating the body with a wire mold and a corset. Make-up will be done for the animals rather than using masks.

“I loved the books as a child, so to re-enter this world, bring it to life and use our imagination to get it there, that’s what I’m excited about,” Duffer said.

The show will run approximately one hour and will take place in the studio theatre at the Merillat Center of the Arts. Performances will run Sept. 26-27 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will also be special performances homecoming weekend Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets may be purchased from the MCA box office.


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