C.S. Lewis is getting some love in Utah this summer with the upcoming "C.S. Lewis Theatre Festival" produced by Zion Theatre Company, which is featuring two plays that center around C.S. Lewis's life and work. Perhaps Lewis's most recognizable work, an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Joseph Robinette is being performed in two locations this summer season, performing first at the Off Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City in July and then at the Castle Theater in Provo in late August/ early September. ZTC is also producing Swallow the Sun, again at the Off Broadway Theater in Salt Lake, in August. Based on the early life of C.S. Lewis, Swallow the Sun tells the tale of C.S. Lewis's conversion from and entrenched secular atheist to one of Christianity's most persuasive and ardent defenders.
Mahonri Stewart, who is the playwright of Swallow the Sun, as well the founder of Zion Theatre Company, is thrilled to see the Festival coming to fruition, "This is something I've wanted to do for years. I have a great passion for C.S. Lewis's life and work, and I know I'm not the only one in this area who feels that way. C.S. Lewis speaks very deeply to a lot of people of faith and to see his work and life come alive on the stage is a very special experience to those of us who have taken our own trips to Narnia."
And it will be that magical world of Narnia where Zion Theatre Company will first take audiences that attend the theatre festival. Director Rebecca Minson, who is also taking on the role of the White Witch, has her own roots with the original story and is enthused to be involved with the production, "I am so excited to be directing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a child I lived in the mountains and imagined my own Narnia to explore in my forested backyard of Southern California. I even used to nail bits of wood together to make a sword for myself because I was the fighter."
However, as any serious lover of the work of C.S. Lewis knows, the stories of Narnia have a much more specific purpose than just indulging in fantasy and magic. The stories are deeply rooted in Christian symbolism and faith. It's a fact not lost on the actors in the production, including James Jones, who is playing the messianic role of the great lion Aslan, "Knowing what the character represents makes it a bit of an intimidating task. I'm humbled by the opportunity and can only hope that I'm prepared to perform for those searching for the major messages of the story."
Director Minson also connects with the religious elements of the classic story. "With growing up and gaining a personal relationship with Christ, my love for the story of Narnia deepened," said Minson. "This experience has allowed me express that love in the full theatrical glory. It's my own heart on that stage being performed by amazing actors in a hip artistic approach to costuming by Ashley Bennett and stunning fight choreography by Adam Argyle. This show is an experience into childhood that will not offend your savvy adult taste."
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will perform Friday and Saturday evenings on July 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, and 21 at 7:30 pm at the Off Broadway Theater, 272 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Tickets can be purchased beforehand at http://theobt.org/, or by calling 801-355-4628.
Swallow the Sun will also perform Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm at the Off Broadway Theater. Swallow the Sun will run on August 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25. Tickets can be purchased beforehand at http://theobt.org/, or by calling 801-355-4628.
The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe will then play again on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays in Provo at the Castle Theatre (1300 East, Center Street, above the State Hospital) on August 24, 25, 27, 31, September 1, 3, 7, and 8 at 7:30 pm. Tickets will be available for pre-order later in the summer for the Provo performances at www.ziontheatrecompany.com.