Theater Review: C.S. Lewis’ classic ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ at Pec
By Edith McCauley
During my many years of teaching, children’s literature was always an integral part of the curriculum. Every day, a half-hour was devoted to reading out loud to the class, and today I still hear from former students who are reading those same stories to their children.
C.S. Lewis’ series of books about the magical land of Narnia is one of the most memorable. Four children, whose parents have left them with a friend while they take a trip, hardly realize what adventures await them. Peter, the eldest; Susan, the sensible one; Edmund, who thinks only of himself; and Lucy, the youngest, whose sense of adventure finds the door in the wardrobe, are well cast. Peter (Bennett Freeze), Susan (Nikki Stansford), Edmund (Christopher Neira) and Lucy (Libby Tidberg) play their parts well in the Pec Playhouse production.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe introduces many of the characters that appear later in the series. Lewis’ theme of the battle between good and evil prevails in all his writing, and these stories specifically for children are a great introduction. As Lucy finds the door in the wardrobe, she finds a wintery Narnia ruled by the White Witch, played by Erin Philpott, who also choreographs the fight scenes. She and her evil army are a constant challenge to Aslan and those who support him. Jamie Button, well known in local theater, is Aslan.
Costuming and staging a cast of animals is a real challenge. Ten years ago, Julie Traymore created every character for The Lion King. Her costumes have become the epitome of animal reality on stage. Stephanie Whitmire is the creative hair-make-up designer for this show. The first impact of her work occurs when Latisha Clements as Mrs. Beaver and David E. Stanley as Mr. Beaver appear on stage. Their masks cover the lower part of their faces, enabling them to speak clearly, yet giving the impression of their animal character — amazing.
James Castree, a member of the board of Pec Playhouse for many years, gives the play energy and the creative artistry such a work requires. The entire design team is outstanding.
The first play of the 2014 season is The Foreigner. Auditions will be held Monday, Dec. 9, and Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. at Pec Playhouse Theatre, 314 Main St., Pecatonica, Ill. The current production plays through Dec. 8. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. For more information, check the website, www.pecplayhouse.org. This is a perfect theater experience for the entire family.
From the Dec. 4-10, 2013, issue