Cast members didn’t need an introduction in preparation for The Magician’s Nephew at the Chemainus Theatre, running Saturday, July 13 through Aug. 11.
They worked together previously in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, while Melissa Young is back to lead the artistic team as director.
The Magician’s Nephew is a prequel to the Chronicles of Narnia series. It’s been two years between the KidzPlay productions, but seems like yesterday to John Han, hometown Chemainus talent Georgia Bennett, Henry Beasley and Sarah Cashin.
They’re playing different characters, but it’s the same four interconnected through the series performances. Han plays Digory, hometown Chemainus talent Georgia Bennett portrays Polly, Beasley takes on dual roles as Uncle Andrew/Aslan and Cashin appears as Queen/Strawberry the Horse.
In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, their respective characters were: Peter (Beasley); Lucy (Bennett); Susan (Cashin) and Edmund (Han).
“We’re all very close to each other,” said Han, a Victoria-based actor. “We always stay in touch outside of here.”
As the Narnia family reassembled for The Magician’s Nephew rehearsals, “on the first day, it’s like we never left,” noted Bennett.
After appearing in Little Women at the Chemainus Theatre late last year, Bennett went back to Ontario where she spent January through April doing a cute show with a not-for-profit company called Back to B4: A Bingo Bonanza.
“I had a bit of a break and when I came back here, I was raring to go with this group,” she enthused.
Han had a recent role at the Chemainus Theatre in Kim’s Convenience. He’s also currently the artistic associate and education assistant with the Chemainus Theatre Festival.
It’s been a rapid rehearsal schedule for the cast of six days before moving right into technical sessions.
The all-ages aspect a performance like The Magician’s Nephew creates is appealing to Han and Bennett.
“We all do believe in theatre for all ages,” said Han.
“Because of the age group we’re doing it for, it’ll be some of the audience’s first shows ever,” Bennett pointed out.
She knows what it was like to be a wide-eyed youngster enthralled by a performance and wondering if acting might be in her future.
“I remember seeing a lot of the shows,” Bennett indicated. “I remember how important it felt. They were all doing something so cool.”
And this show is sure to leave an impression, Han said.
“The show is full of magic, hope, bravery, confidence and dealing with life. There’s so many great messages, but it’s all in this magical setting.”
The literary classic precedes the famous adventures of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter. In Narnia, it is 1,000 years earlier, but for our world, the story is set in the summer of 1900 in London. Digory and his new friend Polly stumble upon a magic portal into another world where they accidentally unleash a force which could destroy both this world and their own.
While trying to defeat the new found evil, they find themselves in a world that consists of nothingness and witness the creation of Narnia by the great Aslan.
“It is a fast-paced, energetic theatre piece with many creative twists and turns that is sure to engage the imaginations of both young and old,” noted Young.
Show times are 11 a.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and at 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.