Backlot stages classic children’s tale ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’ in both Forsyth and Barnesville

Telegraph correspondentJune 13, 2014 

Forsyth’s Backlot Players are taking on the classic tale of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” in a production that opens Friday night. Kristy Slaughter, the show’s director, said this production of a classic story is one that will be fondly remembered -- especially because of the cast.

In a recent interview, Slaughter praised her cast and crew extensively.

“We have a wide range of people in the cast, from a 9 year old girl to retired seniors. The cast is 30 people total, with 16 fairly large roles. We had about double that number come to auditions, so competition was stiff and we have the best possible cast. They are doing a wonderful job,” she said.

“The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” tells the story of “children who wander into a magical land called Narnia through a wardrobe in the mansion where they are staying,” she said. “They soon realize everything is different, with talking animals, witches and kings and queens. The story is actually an allegory from the Bible, telling the story of Christ. It’s a story of good versus evil and it touches people on that fundamental level.”

The play does vary from the movies and the books, and Slaughter said Backlot is doing things that are a little different from the norm for the staging.

“We have some really cool fight scenes that are dramatic for a show on stage. We actually had a fight coordinator named Ashley Eckersley teach our youth some fight moves for our fight scenes,” she said.

In addition to dramatic fight scenes, the play also is visually appealing.

“Aslan, who is the central religious figure, has the wig and the makeup of the lion,” Slaughter said, “but the clothing is more modern. It isn’t a Halloween costume. I didn’t want anything that cartoony. We do a lot of face makeup, and we are trying to go with minimal costuming for the animal characters. We didn’t want the awkwardness of people trying to look like animals walking on all fours, so we are going with the idea that the audience will suspend their disbelief and the animals will walk upright.”

The set is a little different, too, especially since the production will travel to Barnesville for a few performances.

“Narnia is supposed to be a land in the midst of a 100-year winter caused by the White Witch. We have a lot of snow on stage and have made it very bright,” Slaughter said. “Also, we are doing something a little unusual and taking this show on the road to Barnesville for a third weekend, so everything had to be mobile. We haven’t done this before on this scale, so we had to keep this in mind when we built the sets. It’s had some challenges to overcome, but it has come together beautifully.”

“The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”

When: 8 p.m. June 13-14, 20-21 and 2 p.m. June 15 and 22 in Forsyth; 8 p.m. June 28 and 2 p.m. June 29 in Barnesville

Where: Rose Theatre, 23 W. Johnston St., Forsyth; Lamar County Schools Fine Arts Center, 100 Burnette Road, Barnesville

Cost: $15 adults; $12 students, seniors and active military

Information: 478-994-0443

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