The crowd entering through the doors of Robsham Theater on Wednesday night stepped into a magical realm of fantasy for the Boston College theatre department’s performance of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The play is based on the classic children’s novel by C.S. Lewis, which follows the story of four siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—as they discover a wardrobe that leads them to the magical world of Narnia, full of majestic scenery and charming characters. Wednesday’s opening night show brought a crowd of both loving parents and supportive friends, and performances will continue through Sunday.
The opening scene begins with the children finding themselves in the English countryside after escaping the bombings in London during World War II. Thrown into this new world, the older siblings, Peter (Grant Whitney, MCAS ’22) and Susan (Jenny Lee, MCAS ’22), reassure the younger pair, Edmund (Aidan O’Neill, MCAS ’23) and Lucy (Lucy Xiao, MCAS ’24). The actors, equipped with British accents, embodied the qualities of curious children embarking upon a rather uncommon adventure.
Director Luke Jorgensen, who is also the acting theatre department chair and associate professor of the practice, said he wanted to adapt the classic play to allow the student actors to get in touch with their creative sides. Jorgensen said through improvisational work, the students wrote some of the dialogue themselves, including the humorous lines that often received laughs from the audience.
The source behind many of these laughs were Aidan Mallon and Liv Sheridan, both MCAS ’22, who played the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. Mallon and Sheridan not only acted, but also became puppeteers as they moved the large beaver puppets across the stage. Tristan Horan, MCAS ’21, played the wise lion Aslan and also operated a large lion puppet in Act II.
Other changes made by the cast enhanced the classic play with entertaining elements of dance. A traditional battle scene was transformed into a dance battle between members of Sexual Chocolate and Masti. Their unexpected dance performance showcased the range of artistic talents of BC students.
Jorgensen said he hoped to adapt the play to make it relevant to the current times. In one scene in the beginning, Peter removes his gas mask and says “I’ve been wearing it for so long I feel strange without it.” The line expresses a familiar feeling for the mask-wearing audience as the play makes the connection to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The battle for the restoration of Narnia spoke to us as a dream of restoring our own lives to a sense of normalcy, as it was for the Pevensie children,” Jorgensen said in his director’s note.
When the curtains go down and the fantastical story comes to an end, the audience returns to reality. Although the story was originally made for children, it contains lessons that are relevant to people of all ages—reminding its audience about the importance of the imagination and indulging curiosity. Franny Giangiulio, MCAS ’23, who served as the script adviser—known as a dramaturg—reflected on the lessons that Lewis’ story shares in her dramaturg’s note.
“During a time when the whole world seemed to be shrouded in darkness, harm, and evil, Lewis manages to show us the light with his tale of magic, wonder, and the triumph of good,” Giangiulio said.
Featured Images by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff