The Chronicles of Narnia series by British author C. S. Lewis has delighted and enchanted legions of readers since it was first published decades ago. Overflowing with fantastical characters in a whimsical world, it’s no small feat to adapt the tale for the stage. But it’s a challenge that local performance company Kittiwake Dance Theatre is taking on with pleasure.
In November and December of 2022, Kittiwake delighted audiences across the island with The Nutcracker ballet. (The company kept busy last fall, also participating in Business & Arts NL’s Team Up With the Arts program, gaining two new board members as a result: Anna Morgan with Browne Fitzgerald Morgan Avis & Wadden, and JoAnne Petten with the CRA).
On April 1st, the company is taking to the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre stage once again to present a new production, “Narnia,” based on the first book in the beloved series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There will be two performances – a 2pm matinee, as well as a 7:30pm show with a soundtrack provided by a live orchestra, conducted by Vernon Regehr, performing Tchaikovsky’s 1st Symphony “Winter Daydreams.”
Working together to bring the production to the stage are Martin Vallée, Kittiwake’s Artistic Director and primary choreographer, and Hannah Drover, 2021’s RBC-Kittiwake Emerging Choreographer-in-Residence (a program which supports the careers and development of emerging artists) – giving her the opportunity to further develop her skills.
“Hannah was the first emerging choreographer to participate in that. So as a continuation of supporting the company members as they acquire different artistic skill, she’s been brought on into this creative process to work with Martin more directly. So that’s nice…to have a younger generation’s perspective in that creative work,” says Calla Lachance, Kittiwake’s Executive Director.
In addition to co-creating and dancing in the production, Drover is also developing some of the original costume pieces, including a centaur costume, which Lachance says is “quite beautiful.”
Another collaborator is Jamie Skidmore, a skilled puppet designer (and professor at Memorial University, teaching courses in theatre and film production) who is painstakingly bringing Aslan the Lion, the king of Narnia, to life.
“It will be operated by three dancers…so that will be an interesting element on stage,” Lachance says.
Also lending their time and talents is theatre artist and writer Sharon King-Campbell, who has been brought on as dramaturge to provide insight into the production’s creative process.
“In the production there’s some interesting character development. So that is what I think is going to make this production really quite beautiful and artistically really exciting,” Lachance says.
“Of course, it’s a family friendly production, really appealing to a wide range of audience members across generations.”
“Narnia” is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, ArtsNL, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the City of St John’s, and Service Canada. And if Kittiwake’s past productions are any indication, audiences are in for a real treat as they follow the adventures of the four Pevensie children as they explore the magical world that awaits.
Step through the back of the wardrobe on April 1st (click here for ticket information).