University of Victoria theatre alumni who met at UVic’s Department of Theatre as fresh-faced first year students in 2004, return to the stage of the Phoenix Theatre with C.S. Lewis’ classic Narnia tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
“I saw a production of it when I was really young, I think I was 12,” said Kaitlin Williams. “It was the first time I’d seen anything like that.”
The woman played a little girl, old woman and even male characters convincingly.
“Fast forward 15 years and I got to do it myself, which was a pinch me moment,” she said. “Then they cast Mack (Gordon) my husband and then we get to bring it back to UVic where we met. Oprah would call this a full circle moment.”
The two married in 2011 and were cast in 2012 for the two-actor Lion Witch and Wardrobe for Pacific Theatre and this month they bring it to UVic’s Phoenix Theatre.
“They let Mack and I bring it over here … so Mack and I are producing it ourselves, which is another challenge,” Williams said. “We worked together (at UVic) before we were married so we’re used to working together. We’re pretty good at it.”
This version of the story sees Peter and Lucy, now grown-up, return to the room and the old wardrobe where, years before, their adventures began. Here they relive their memories of Narnia, performing the roles of characters they met along the way, including Mr. Tumnus, the Beaver family, the evil White Witch and the mighty lion Aslan.
“It feels weird and exciting and fun,” Williams said of portraying all those characters. “There’s amazing sound design and technical supports, but it’s Mack and I. And the audience is another performer because they have to get into it. … We ask the audience to stretch their imagination and imagine you’re seeing a lion. Imagine you’re in a forest and it’s all winter.”
In 2013, the husband and wife duo played an engaged couple in Pacific Theatre’s Jessie-winning production of The Foreigner, and this past summer they were historical interpreters performing as a gold rush couple at Barkerville Historic Town.
“We joke that we are a two-for-one package and are always looking out for shows we can do together,” Williams said.
UVic’s Phoenix Theatre opens the season each year by celebrating the success of their theatre graduates with their Spotlight on Alumni.
“It’s our first time doing a show here in five years, since we were in school, so it’s fun to be back in that capacity,” Williams said. “I want to go to all my favourite little shops, visit Caddy Bay. Just be here and visit family and friends.”
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe runs Oct. 9 to 18. Visit finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/phoenix to ticket information.
Get your tickets to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
Single Tickets: $16 Student/$20 Senior/$24 Adult/$24 Weekends at 8 p.m. (Preview $7, available after 5 p.m.) Season Subscription: $36 for 3 plays & $48 for 4 plays. Details at phoenixtheatres.ca Phoenix Box Office 250-721-8000.
Public Preview 8pm: Oct. 7 (Followed by talkback session)
Evening Performances 8pm: Oct. 9 (Opening Night), 10 (Q&A lecture), 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 Matinee Performances 2pm: Saturday, Oct. 11 (with sign language) and Oct. 18 Special Events:
• Tuesday, Oct. 7 8pm: Public talkback session after the preview night performance.
• Friday, Oct. 10 7pm: Preshow Q&A discussion with Kaitlin, Mack and professor Jan Wood. • Saturday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m.: Sign language interpretation with Deaf interpreter Nigel Howard.