C.S. Lewis takes the stage


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It is a rare occasion in the theater: silence. The stage is filled with over twenty kids aged fourth grade through high school, all sitting and waiting for their turn to run through their combat battle sequence. The lights are slowly changing from one lighting cue to the next. Some of the kids are standing with swords, other with large shields. They are in a final tech rehearsal for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Coralville Center for the Performing Arts and the Young Footliters acting company will present a modernized version of the C.S. Lewis novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this Friday through Sept. 14. Adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette, the showtells the story of four siblings who find their way into a magical land of Narnia via a wardrobe found in a mansion.

“It’s a universal story. It’s one that, no matter how many times you’ve seen some version of it, it resonates with you no matter what,” director Matt Falduto said.

Falduto is returning to direct The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe after a 14-year break from Young Footliters. Despite the inexperience of his young cast, Falduto said the kids bring a lot of energy to the table.

“I have been so impressed by how they’ve been willing to take chances and put themselves out there,” he said.

At their lighting rehearsal on Sept. 7, Falduto leads the kids through a particularly difficult combat scene in slow motion. Though the scene is rather serious, the young actors can't help but laugh and make faces at one another.

“The combat scene is my favorite part of the show,” said 12-year-old Elizabeth Davis.

Actor Emma Furlong, 11, said “dying” was her favorite part of the production, while Mira Bohannan Kumar, 12, said she enjoys dying and then coming back to life.

Kumar plays Aslan, the wise lion who guides the main characters through Narnia. She said the key to being a good actor is becoming familiar with the script as soon as possible.

“I memorize my lines early," she said. "I just feel like it’s so much easier to spend time developing the character when I know my lines.”

Although C.S. Lewis's original novel took place in 1940, the Young Footliter's play has been brought to the modern day.”

“The other thing that’s different then how it’s been done before is it is set in 2014,” Falduto said. “I wanted to show the universality of how it’s just as relevant now as it was then.”

The costumes, for examples, are clothes modern children would wear — with a few fantasy touches.

“I love the costumes, that is my favorite thing," said Shanthi Chackalachal, 15, who plays the White Witch. Her costume is particularly elaborate, with a large, glittery crown and a long blue and white dress that depicts ice.

Apart from 2014-inspired costumes and make-up, the show brings in recent popular culture as well: the show begins with a rendition of the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen.

Though this isn't Chackalachal's first theater production, she said this was her first time acting with other actors her own age.

“I love making friends with the cast,” Chackalachal said.

“The whole experience is really fun," Furlong added. "Everyone in the cast is crazy, in the best way possible.”

What: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Where: Coraville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth St.
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sept. 14
Price: $7 to $12
Tickets are still available for all performances at coralvillearts.org or at the door

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