Special to the Record
In 1949, a few years after the end of the Second World War, C.S. Lewis published one of his most famous books, a work of fiction called The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
A favourite of children and adults ever since, it tells the story of four British children sent from London to the country during the war, to escape the bombing. They accidentally find their way to Narnia, a kingdom under the rule of a cruel queen, where they precipitate a battle between evil and good. This story has been adapted in many ways over the years, including a musical version, Narnia, which will be presented by Courtenay Little Theatre from Dec. 27 to Jan. 3 at the Sid Williams Theatre.
The music of Narnia is not well known but its songs are beautiful and, in many cases, intensely emotional. This is music that expresses the longing for redemption, rebirth, and freedom from evil.
Mike Eddy, the musical director of the Courtenay production, explains that the composer took advantage of the juxtaposition of good and evil and the layering this creates to develop appropriate theme music for different types of characters and their moods.
Eddy works to realize in the music, the unique fantasy world of Narnia as visualized by director Brian Mather.
Instead of an orchestra, the instrumental music will be performed using a synthesizer with sequencer because the fantasy world of the play lends itself to this treatment.
“I will be playing the show live from the back of the theatre, using a Korg synthesizer workstation so I can switch quickly from one bank of sounds to another and fatten out the sounds by adding synthesizer voices and changing the timbre,” explains Eddy.
Working with both the lead actors and ensemble, the vocal director, Sharon Pridham, helps them to develop endurance and protect their voices while performing the often demanding and emotional roles. Ensemble training usually begins with straight rehearsals, as for a concert.
Later, the vocal director covers the transitions from spoken word to singing with the leads. Some musicals, such as Les Miserables, are all music with no spoken words. However some, like Narnia, have both spoken and sung parts. The actors must move smoothly and naturally from talking to singing.
“My aim is to assist the cast to develop the skills needed to be shown at their very best,” says Pridham.
Working one-on-one with some of the lead actors, the vocal coach, Carrie Lemke, endeavours to help them polish their songs.
“Because musical theatre is text-driven, one must sometimes choose character over vocal beauty while still practising good vocal health,” says Lemke.
This can prove to be rather a challenge if one’s character has, for example, a gruff or raspy spoken voice.
“My goal is to assist them in presenting strong vocal performances while maintaining the integrity of the role they are playing,” she explains.
Tickets for this fantastical musical are selling at a brisk pace at the Sid Williams Ticket Centre, 442 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay, online at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com and by phone at 250-338-2430 ext. 1. Evening shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 27, 29, 30, 31, Jan. 2 and 3, with the popular 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Dec. 28. Evening and matinee tickets are $20, except for the Special New Year’s Celebration on Dec. 31, which are $25 for all seats.