“The Chronicles of Narnia” from the classic novels of C. S. Lewis is being presented this weekend by Howard Community College’s Arts Collective and Howard County Poetry and Literature Society at the Studio Theatre at eh Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts at HCC. The performance is in two separate one acts from the series that Lewis wrote in the mid-20th Century. Act One is The Magician’s Nephew adapted by Aurand Harris, really a prequel to the more famous, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This classic is adapted by Don Quinn and is performed in Act Two. Daniel Johnston directed the first act and Cheryl J. Campo directed the second.
For those not familiar with the stories they revolve around magic, children and an enchanted land, Narnia, where there are witches and an anthropomorphized lion, Anslan (Ifechukwu Alachebe), talking human like animals and dwarves. Devotees of the Lewis tales may feel like they wanted a little more of the intricacies of the plots, but most children, and adults who are children at heart, will not notice those missing elements.
‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ may be just the place to bring your children this weekend to get a break from comic book super heroes.
Jared Max as Uncle Andrew, the magician in the title of Act One, does a very credible job as the slightly mad uncle who transports nephew, Digory (Gwen Lowell) and his friend Polly (Cameron Kelly) to the magical land. The two youngsters do admirably in their roles as they jump from the real world to the one of fantasy.
Alachebe’s African accent is an interesting touch as he regally plays the lion, Aslan. It may make you recall The Lion King’s Mufasa. The character resurfaces in Act Two as well.
Abigail Pervaiz is the evil Queen Jadis. This role also spans both acts. The highlight of her performance is her scenes with the Dwarf. Maia Krapcho plays the latter, and the chemistry between the two works well. Krapcho also adds some needed comic relief at a very grim part of the story.
Kaylob Simms also does a noteworthy job as the faun, Mr. Tumnus. The four children of the second act, Thomas Greenslit as Peter, Mallory Jordan as Susan, Emily Groves as Edmund and the adorable Bella Horvath as Lucy all help carry off the modern fairy tale. The other actors play multiple roles and include Gina Ashton, Jamie Barrios, Elizabeth Feuerbach, Tori Worth. Chris Grenchik, Tara Hart, Vikas Malhotra, and Catherine Whittaker.
Johnston’s and Campo’s direction help develop the fantasy. I like using the platform as a tunnel in Narnia. I also think using the real door and transforming it into the wardrobe in Act Two is clever.
The set is designed by S. G. Kramer and Andrew M. Haag, Jr. It is minimalistic with only two platforms, allowing decoration and props to help create the settings. The lighting by Haag, Jr. also helps with the transformations from reality to fantasy. I really appreciate the ingenuity of several of the costumes especially those that represent earth, fire, air, etc. Chris Sisson also has some interesting sound designs.
This is a fantasy that clearly teaches morality. Lewis was a very religious person, and there are obvious parables in these versions of Narnia. For example, the kids are called the children of Adam and Eve in Act Two. There are obvious hints about creation and a messiah. However, these are good morals at Holiday Time, and dialogue about “Giving, not taking. Helping not destroying” is a message we should live by the whole year.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” may be just the place to bring your children this weekend to get a break from comic book super heroes. In this theatrical production, the heroes are the children not mutants or inter-planetary aliens. However, please note, children under 6 will not be seated due to the actor and set movements and some of the scarier nature of the production.
Running Time: One Hour and 55 minutes with an Intermission.
Note: The characters do a meet and greet for the audience after the performance
Disclaimer: Susan Brall has worked with Daniel Johnston and others in the cast and crew in theatrical productions. This did not influence her review.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” plays through December 9, 2018 – Howard Community College’s Arts Collective performing at Howard Community College’s Studio Theatre –The Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts – 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.