CS Lewis classic comes to life at Guild

East London’s Guild Theatre will be a kaleidoscope of dance this week as the Christian Dance Academy’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe starts on Thursday.

The show, which kicks off with a matinee at 3pm and another performance in the evening, is set to take audience members into a world where mythical creatures exist and magic is common.

Adapted from the CS Lewis novel, the production combines classical, contemporary and modern dance to tell the epic story of the Narnians’ battle to save their land from the Wicked Witch.

Dancers rehearse Scenes from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the NG Kerk Noord on Saturday in preparation to stage the production at the Guild Theatre this week. The first performance will take place on Thursday at 3 pm and the show will run until August 11. Tickets can be purchased from Computicket. Pictures: MADELEINE CHAPUT

The show features local talent as well as former US-based Ballet Magnificat! company dancer Andrea Payne, and cast members ranging from four to 60 years old will entertain audiences.

“We first staged this production in 2006, and it’s wonderful to see how everything has come full circle. Some of my little dancers from 2006 are now all grown up and dancing more senior and lead roles,” said CDA director Katie Ansell.

The elaborate costumes, detailed sets, updated choreography and mix of music – much of it from the original film version – all help to bring to vivid life the likes of siblings Susan, Peter, Lucy and Edmund, as well as Mr Tumnus the faun, Mr and Mrs Beaver, the mighty Aslan and the Wicked Witch.

“It’s the same beautiful story, but the production has definitely been revamped.

“The studio has grown a lot since 2006. There are many more dancers and a lot more seniors. Many of them are quite serious about their dancing and give stunning performances,” said Ansell.

Payne, who joined the CDA in January, said she was excited to be part of the company and this production.

“Watching all the details come together through the hard work of the staff, parents and students of the CDA has been really amazing,” she said.

Payne, who is originally from Cape Town, joined the Mississippi-based Ballet Magnificat! in 2008.

She returned to South Africa last year after problems with her work visa.

“It was a bit of a rough patch and things didn’t really work out with my visa, but when I reconnected with Katie and she offered me a job with the CDA, I was really excited to be part of such a special studio,” said Payne, who met Ansell during Ballet Magnificat!’s previous tours to East London.

She helps run all aspects of the studio, from making and fixing costumes to teaching and dancing, and is a vital addition to the CDA family.

“Andrea is a huge help, especially with my seniors as she can demonstrate pointe work and give them valuable insight into the world of a professional dancer. She has a lot of experience,” said Ansell.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe will run until August 11, with three afternoon and evening performances.

Ticket prices vary, with gala performances at R120 for adults and R100 for children on Thursday. All other performances are R100 for adults and R80 for children.

Tickets can be purchased from Computicket.

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