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Henry Players taking audiences to Narnia

Photo by Jason A. Smith
Jake Wojnowski (left) and Abbey Middlebrook are among the young actors who depict a fight scene in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." The Henry Players' production will be brought to the stage in McDonough, Thursday through Sunday.

Photo by Jason A. Smith Jake Wojnowski (left) and Abbey Middlebrook are among the young actors who depict a fight scene in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." The Henry Players' production will be brought to the stage in McDonough, Thursday through Sunday.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A classic tale, combining fantasy and faith, will hit the stage in McDonough this week, as the Henry Players present their production of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

The shows will be Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., in the Henry County Performing Arts Center.

The play is based on a book by C.S. Lewis, and is part of "The Chronicles of Narnia."

"It's a story about four children that are sent to the country to avoid the bombing of London during World War II," said co-director, Steve Green. "They were playing hide-and-seek, and one of them hid in a wardrobe."

From there, the characters enter a fantasy world in Lewis' allegory about the life of Jesus Christ.

"He was a devout Christian, and this is a series of books trying to explain to children his beliefs," said Green. "It's a book that must be read to children, and should also be read again when you're adult, and it's just as powerful."

Most of the 30-plus member cast of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," are children. Green said the play's auditions generated interest among more than 150 aspiring young thespians in the area.

"We had 61 people audition for the same part," he said.

The coveted role of the character, Susan, went to Hannah Studdard, Green said.

Green's co-director, Kathryn Wood, was excited about the chance to lead the cast for the play. She said, "The Chronicles of Narnia" is one of her favorite literary collections.

"I read the entire series to my son when he was a child, so it's something that has been a family tradition," said Wood. "We kind of grew up with it, and to have the opportunity to actually put it on stage, with all of our fabulous cast, has just been a real joy."

Wood said bringing the play to the stage enhances its uniqueness for audiences. "A lot of them have seen the movie, but they have never seen it done as a play," she said. "To see it done as a live performance gives a whole new perspective to the story."

Christian Thomas will assume the role of Peter in the production, his second with the Henry Players. A long-time fan of "The Chronicles of Narnia," Thomas was eager to audition, and surprised to win the role.

He said working on the production has been an "amazing" experience.

"The only things I've ever done is see the movie and read the book, and you make your own mental image in those cases," said Thomas. "It's really hard to bring something like that -- where you can use your imagination or you can see it in a large movie -- put it into a little theater on a stage, and be able to make scene changes, and make it all work together and still capture the magic of the show."

Robert Oden will bring his booming, bass voice to the role of Aslan the lion, for the production. Lewis, he said, wrote the character as a picture of Jesus Christ.

"The entire play is basically the story of Christ's resurrection, and it's quite a challenge," said Oden. "This is one of those roles where you have to have a variety of different moods. You have to be strong and, at the same time, sympathetic, empathetic, combative and understanding, and be a leader of your people."

Oden, a 10-year veteran of the Henry Players, said he is most looking forward to working with the children in the cast. "They bring so much vitality, so much fresh feeling about life into the play," he said.

Tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for children and seniors. For more information, visit www.henryplayers.com.