The Tar River Players' second production of the 2011-2012 season will feature 35 area youths in the magical story of "Narnia."
Aslan, the great lion of Narnia, the wicked White Witch, unicorns, and other magical creatures will combine under one roof to create a fun, family-oriented environment. One's imagination can run freely 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in the McIntyre Auditorium on the Tarboro campus of Edgecombe Community College.
Based on C.S. Lewis' book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," four English children who were sent to their Uncle's home during World War II to keep them safe from the London blitz enter an alternate, winter world with no Christmas glee through a wardrobe, and encounters a battle of good versus evil. The production will incorporate song and dance to creatively emulate the story's action-packed fighting scenes and more.
The Choreographer of "Narnia" is local dance instructor, Pat Petruzziello, and the Musical Director is Becky Johnson. The play is co-directed by Dawn Whitehurst and Roberta Cashwell.
Whitehurst's debut as a director has given her a new perspective on the art of directing.
"I have a new respect for directors," said Whitehurst. "I have learned a lot of patience, but I think what has surprised me the most, is how instinctive the kids are. I don't have to give them as much direction as I thought. They really are so good. Their imagination hasn't gone away yet. When they imagine that they're in Narnia, they move about naturally and it works."
Thus far, her expectations for opening night along with Cashwell's are through the roof.
"Anytime you involve the magic ingredients of music and children, you tend to get a big audience," said Whitehurst. "Plus, Narnia is a well known story that people love, so I think the turnout should be pretty good."
Cashwell also said, "We feel good about this show because with 35 kids, how can you go wrong? They are having a good time with this production and it's really coming together."
Staring in the role as Aslan, the brave lion of Narnia, is Kevin Pixley. He is one of the leading characters along with Ann Davis, who portrays the White Witch. While taking on these roles, both individuals want to dig deeply within themselves to be as believable as possible for the audience to get the true essence of "Narnia."
"Usually when I do a role, I don't want to see what somebody else has done, because I want to make it my own," said Davis. "I was a little apprehensive about playing somebody evil, but then, I realized that there is a dark part of us that we have. There is the good part of us, and the dark part. In this production, I am trying to connect with my dark part. That's how I'm attacking my role."
Pixley described his character as warm hearted, kind and aggressive. These are attributes that connect him with Aslan.
"He and I have energy, so I think I can channel that energy to his character," said Pixley. "You have to be able to be a lion and a human at the same time, but also be believable as a lion as well, so thats a challenge. I'm going to channel that energy I have to bring that lion out."
Other local children have roles in the play as Narnia's magical creatures like pixies, unicorns, woodland birds and more. Also, ECC's students in performing arts classes are helping out with the production and working behind the scenes on make-up, theater design and production, and lighting.
Performances are scheduled 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 24 and 25, March 2 and 3 and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 26, and March 4. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, seniors, ECC staff members and groups of 10 or more. All tickets are available at the door in McIntyre Auditorium.