WFHS students, parents, faculty, alumni and siblings work together to bring C.S. Lewis story to life.
WAKE FOREST — The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is probably C.S. Lewis’ most popular Narnia novel. Adapted for the stage by prize-winning playwright Joseph Robinette, it becomes a charming allegory for the struggle between good and evil.
Set in 1944, it begins when the four Pevensie children, Susan, played by Carly Hebert, Lucy, played by April Houghland, Peter, played by Andrew Ross, and Edmund, played by Caleb Wright arrive at a relative’s house to escape the WWII bombings.
When Lucy stumbles through the back of an old attic wardrobe into a forest lit by a streetlight and meets a mythological faun, played by Kyle Morris, the story becomes an adventure in which the children must eventually choose to fight on the side of good, represented by Aslan, played by Isaiah Napier, and his band of animals, or the side of evil, represented by Jadis, the White Witch, played by Sydney Rowlette, and her evil band of ghouls, hags, and specters.
Lewis’ story reflects the real world dilemma of being able to tell the difference between good and evil; lions are traditionally fierce predators and white symbolizes good, but things are not always what they seem.
“You have to be a good critical thinker to tell the difference sometimes,” said drama teacher Marie Jones. “That’s what our program is really all about.”
The White Witch, who has sentenced Narnia to eternal winter, tricks Edmund into betraying his siblings, and Aslan must risk the ultimate sacrifice in order to save him. Peter steps up to lead Aslan’s followers in an epic battle to overcome the White Witch.
The battle scene, choreographed by Ligon GT Middle School drama teacher, Ken Jones, who is the son of WFHS drama teacher, Marie Jones, appreciates the time, energy and effort the drama students put in on a daily basis to master new and challenging skills.
“These students are respectful and eager learners. I enjoy sharing the skills I’ve learned with them,” he said.
Wake Forest High School drama continues to be a family affair with freshman Houston Jones serving as assistant fight master. Houston is the son of Becca and Kevin Jones, Wake Forest High School alumni and alumni members of WFHS Honors Theater Company, TROUPE,.
“I’ve been doing plays here since elementary school,” says Houston. “It made the transition to high school a lot easier.”
Houston’s younger sisters, Kaelin and Erin also have parts in the cast of more than 60.
Heidi Solomon, alumni parent, oversees costumes, and her daughter, Erin, coordinates make up for the show. Erin, who was recently cast in the popular annual TIP version of A Christmas Carol, observed that “giving something back while adding to my own make-up skills is a win-win situation.”
Mrs. Solomon continues to work with parents and grandparents as part of drama booster group, WRAP (Wake Forest Renaissance Arts Productions) to make real world theater experience possible for these future actors and technicians.
“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is our freshman/sophomore show,” senior director, Jada Hester said. “As senior troupers, we are not eligible to be in this show, but we are allowed to direct it with guidance from Mrs. Jones.”
Her fellow directors, seniors Elisha McNeil and Rachel Bohannon, echo her sentiments and value the chance to gain leadership skills.
“It’s great to pass on some of the theater skills I’ve learned,” Rachel said. Elisha McNeil, also one of the stage managers agreed. “There’s a lot of mutual respect and a friendship that develops,” he added. “We have to learn to work together just like the characters in the show do.”
This is true backstage as well. Technical Director Tim Domack coaches his students to design and build their own ideas. This play features some special effects that include a stone table that cracks apart during the show, and a spooky forest created from carpet tubes and banner paper.
Production stage manager and second generation trouper, Kira Henkel observed, “I have learned so much about leadership while doing theater. I know that will take me a long way when I go to college.”
English teacher John Cook, who plays Father Christmas, said he enjoys the chance to pursue his love of acting.
“This is great for me. I get to share one of my favorite hobbies with my students,” he said.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opens Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. and runs through Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2 and 7 pm.
Local elementary and middle school children will enjoy a special matinee on Friday, Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door. Adult tickets are $10 with seniors and students $5. The show is rated PG and runs about 90 minutes.