No Lyin’: It Takes Four to Make This Big Cat Roar

By Julia Wiebe, Current Staff

“Things never happen the same way twice, dear one.”

That line, after being written by C.S. Lewis in the original The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, has been spoken by countless actors in countless productions, both on stage and on the big screen, but one thing is for sure: Aslan has never been portrayed quite like this before.

In this year’s drama department production of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, all-powerful protagonist Aslan, a larger-than-life lion, is being played by not one, but four actresses. Carly Gloff, Rachel Uhren, Christine Gan, and Natalie Wanasek are joining forces to bring this character to life.

“If one of us messes up, we all mess up,” said Gan, quickly met by the nods and affirmations of the others.

Using a large puppet, Christine, Rachel, and Natalie control Aslan’s body while Carly does his voice off stage. With Natalie controlling the head, Christine controlling the chest, and Rachel doing the hind quarters, it takes a lot of hard work to stay coordinated and in sync. They have to know when and where to move during each scene.

“We practiced without the costume at first, then tied our legs together and walked,” said Uhren.

None of this came easily, however. The puppetry trio spent some time studying how real lions walk and roar, as well as other theatrical performances using puppets.

The numerous action scenes in the play require a lot of the three actresses, but they are more than up to the challenge. When asked about the secret to their success, the three responded in unison, quite fittingly, “Practice!”

Not only do all of the body parts have to move together, but the movement of the head on stage has to align with the dialogue being done off stage.

“I came to rehearsals where she was learning the dialogue, so I learned how the dialogue works,” said Wanasek.

And as for Gloff, she doesn’t go unhindered. Unable to convey emotions with facial expressions like the other actors and actresses that grace the stage, she cites voice inflections as her main tool.

Throughout many weeks of rehearsals and extra practice in their own time, these gals have become a well-oiled machine, more than ready for their performances this weekend.

The play, directed by Tonya Fordham, opened Thursday, Nov. 21 in the WBHS Auditorium.  Performances are also scheduled for Friday at 7pm and Saturday at 1pm and 7pm.  Tickets are $6 for students and seniors, $9 for adults.

Fall play flyer

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