Barbara Lawlor, Gilpin County. One of the goals of a theater production is to transport the audience into another world, a world in which other people solve problems not our own; a world that triggers our imagination and our emotions.
Last weekend, the combined Gilpin schools brought the classic story, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” to the Gilpin stage and took the audience to the frozen land of Narnia, where white witches, large lions, beavers, dancing snowflakes, clever mice, and four siblings merge into one of the best known, and loved, adventures ever written.
It was a huge undertaking, inspired by director Hannah Raynes, who has never forgotten seeing the show as a young child. She says her goal was to urge the actors to find their magical place on the stage and in their minds, the one that allows their performance to come to life.
It all came together in a brilliant melding of script, music, stunning sets and lighting, and the hearts of students of all ages.
The plot revolves around four siblings who stumble through an old wardrobe into the land of Narnia where they find themselves enmeshed in battles that were begun long before they entered the scene. Although the sibs are basically trying to stay together and survive, they become heroes, warriors and maybe even philosophers by the end of their tale.
Archer O’Brien plays Lucy, the curious, high-spirited younger sister; Claire Diekman plays Susan, the more level-headed older sister; Jake Duncan plays Peter, the valiant older brother; and Logan Prewitt plays Edmund, the stubborn younger brother in the Prewitt family.
These four actors played their role so convincingly that they could have actually been members of the same family, as they trudged through the winter world in their heavy fur coats.
The winter world was a dazzlingly vivid winter set with pine trees and snow sifting down through the air, which was dramatically lit. The indoor scenes of the beaver home and the castle were meticulous in their detail and richness of color, every set was the result of many hours of labor by the tech crew.
Aslan the Lion stole the show and Alicia Johnson did an amazing job as Aslan’s voice, applying the appropriate gruffness and kingly attitude.
Anna Yocom was resplendent as the petulant, tyrannical, devious White Witch who brought the land of Narnia to a frozen standstill. Yocom was wondrously haughty as she spewed her orders to her minions.
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver played by Aidan Freeman and Sarah Trujillo were the characters perfect for the actors, who became the homey, protective, calming presences on stage.
The fight scene choreography was intense, but disciplined and augmented by the appearance of the stilt dancers, Bailey Hobson-Kroll and Regan Murdock, a true feat of balance and grace.
Adding a bunch of adorable to the cast, the Gilpin elementary school snowflakes and mice had a chance for their moment in the spotlight, inspiring them to anticipate future stage performances.
The entire cast and tech crew is to be commended for their stellar efforts in an excellent production of a show that sent everyone home feeling as if they had gone to and come back from another world.