Theater department to present ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’

Feb 21, 2019
Rooslana Rusk as the White Witch

The Newman Theater Department presents the family classic, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” based on the novels by C.S. Lewis.

The play stars four child protagonists — Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy — who are taken to a country house for safety during the World War II bombings in London. When the youngest child, Lucy, discovers a wardrobe, it transports her into the magical world of Narnia. There, the children meet Aslan — the great lion king — and join forces to defeat the White Witch.

“I was just over the moon when Mark offered me the chance to direct this play,” guest director Paula Makar said. “The students have been delightful to work with — they have been working diligently, digging deep physically and emotionally to tell this positive story of forgiveness.”

Various sounds, lights and special effects will help this action-packed tale come to life. But none of these creative elements would be possible without the hard work of those behind the scenes.  

Although tech producer James Leggett originally planned to help build the set, an idea for the play struck him during the university’s winter break.

“I had never worked with prosthetics before, but I thought, ‘How cool would it be to create a prosthetic mask for Aslan to make him look like a lion,’” Leggett said. “So I immediately started looking up how-to videos online.”

Leggett pitched the idea to costume designer Christy Railsback and they decided to run with it. Technical director and designer Daniel Williams took over the set-building process while Leggett took the reigns on designing the prosthetic masks.

“Christy had never done it before either, so it was a learning process for both of us,” Leggett said.

James Leggett shows off the prosthetic lion mask he created for the iconic character, "Aslan."
James Leggett shows off the prosthetic lion mask he created for the iconic character “Aslan.”

Each mask involved a 12-hour process to create. For every character, Leggett made a life cast of the person’s face, followed by the clay animal face addition and finally the latex prosthetic. He had to wait for each piece to dry before moving to the next stage, which made it very time-consuming, Leggett said.

“Initially we were just going to make a prosthetic mask for Aslan, but when Paula saw it, she said we should make them for all of the animals,” Leggett said.

With the help of volunteer students Keean Bush, Lucas Farney and Kirsten Sanders, Leggett successfully crafted masks of a lion, two beavers, two leopards and two wolves.

“The cool part is once they’re all done it’s going to look awesome,” he added. “I’m really excited to see the audience’s reactions to the characters when they come onstage.”

There are many creative elements for audiences to look forward to, but the actors and actresses who have spent hours learning lines and rehearsing daily are also excited for the performances.

Junior Emily Larkin plays Lucy in the production and cannot wait to perform for a live audience, she said.

Emily Larkin
Junior Emily Larkin is playing the character of “Lucy” — Larkin’s dream role since she was eight years old.

“This has been my dream role since I was 8years old,” Larkin said. “I never in a million years thought I would be able to perform it, so to be able to put so much into it at a place I love … Newman University is incredible. I’ve fallen so much in love with the character and her sense of imagination and hope, and I think both are much-needed in the world today.”

Makar added, “Our designers are first rate and have done some amazingly creative work. I can’t wait for everyone to see the the fruits of their labor.”

All performances will be held in the DeMattias Performance Hall:

  • 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28
  • 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, March 1
  • 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 2
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3

Ticket prices:

  • General admission: $12
  • Senior citizens and military: $10
  • Staff, faculty and non-Newman students: $5
  • Newman students: Free with student I.D.

To purchase tickets in advance or for more information, contact Director of Theater Mark Mannette by email at [email protected] or by phone at (316) 942-4291, ext. 2486.