Rama (L) and Guilia (R) prepare for Orchard School’s performance of Narnia which opens Friday, January 20, at 6:30 p.m. and continues Saturday, January 21, at 5:30 p.m. PHOTO: Nicole Lukas

Students Bring Narnia to Life

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Thursday January 19, 2017

Orchard School invites the community to enter the fantasy world of Narnia, where imaginative characters and creatures abound, when they perform this year’s play Narnia. Based on the beloved series by C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Orchard production features modern music making a fun and engaging experience for all. Performances are Friday, January 20, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, January 21, at 5:30 p.m., with doors opening a half hour before show time.

This is the 17th year Orchard School has worked with Don Wright and the Very Merry Theater for its yearly drama production. They are one of a handful of schools who have the opportunity to work with the company, which has a mission to build strong, inspired youth and communities through theater arts. In this year’s production, Wright helped Orchard create a world with all the favorite Narnia characters like the Queen, Peter, Lucy, and Susan. Also on stage are Caspian, Farsight, Reepicheep, and other creatures like wolves, centaurs, giants, monopods, unicorns, and eagles.

Wright, along with students, teachers, and parent volunteers have been working since October on this production. A dedicated trio of Orchard parents, Michelle Keefler, Shen Mien, and Harriet Matthews, are the backbone of this year’s production.

Keefler, who has led Orchard’s play efforts for the last three years, says, “Drama provides amazing opportunities for students to grow and conquer challenges, which are different for each student. For some, it’s overcoming shyness and getting comfortable speaking in front of a group. For others, it’s being cast with a group of kids they haven’t interacted with before and making new friends. Other students find out for the first time that they are talented singers, or that they love being on stage. We are so lucky to have this opportunity at Orchard and are so grateful to have this connection with Don and the Very Merry Theater.”

Students in grades two through five have different opportunities to be involved with the play. Second and third graders participate in the chorus and support the play by contributing to the music. Fourth and fifth graders can be part of the cast or crew. For roles in the play, fourth graders generally receive supporting roles and fifth graders receive the lead roles.

Katie, a fifth grader, who plays the Queen, says, “It’s a big part and I get to act evil and really express myself. Plus, my costume is really fun.” She added, “I don’t need to be nervous because everybody is nice and they don’t judge, so I can be myself on stage. I always look forward to the end of the day so that I can go to play practice. The play is one of my favorite parts about Orchard School, besides the teachers.”

Jack, a fourth grader who portrays a giant in the play, reports, “I think it’s a really great experience for us kids. Being on stage helps us be more outgoing. In this play, everyone gets a cool part. I like my part because we’re singing ‘We Will Rock You,’ which is a song by Queen.”

Fourth and fifth graders can also elect to be part of the crew. These teams help with set building and painting, stage placement, scene changes, and all of the other countless behind the scenes needs that go into making a play. Fourth grader Romaric, says, “I really like to make props and sets, especially painting stuff. My favorite thing to use was the foam cutter. I want to do crew again next year.”

Tickets for Narnia are available from the Orchard PTO. For more information, email orcharddrama@gmail.com.