In-person productions return to Summit High School with ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’
Play runs this weekend only
Lovers of live theater will be thrilled to know that Summit High School is presenting its first in-person stage production since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” a play dramatized by Joseph Robinette from the classic story by C.S. Lewis, debuts Friday, Nov. 19.
The play is directed by Summit High School alumna and dance instructor Debbie Whitmore with high school choir, theater and piano teacher Caroline Hesford producing and set design by welding teacher Oakley Van Oss. It stars 19 high schoolers, two middle schoolers and other technical theater students working behind the scenes.
While Whitmore has directed and choreographed musicals at the school before, this is her first time doing a play at the school. Hesford reached out to Whitmore to direct the fall show after the production of “Legally Blonde” got postponed to spring 2022 due to the pandemic.
It has been difficult for Whitmore to teach virtually, yet she has used the downtime to take care of her new baby.
“It was fortuitous in its own way because I got to spend so much time at home,” Whitmore said. “… But it’s really nice to be back teaching and working with the students again. There’s nothing like it.”
Whitmore picked “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in July because she wanted to tell a magical, childhood-favorite filled with iconic characters. The play follows Lewis’ story of four children exploring the world of Narnia with anthropomorphized characters like the faun Tumnus, the lion Aslan and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.
“For parents, it might be that they’re really familiar with the story, so it will kind of be a nice return to that adventure,” Whitmore said. “And I think kids will really like it because it has a lot of really fun, vibrant characters and that classic story of good triumphing over evil.”
The antagonist, the White Witch, is played by senior Victoria Uglyar. Breckenridge Backstage Theatre inspired her, and she has been in theater programs since seventh grade, leading her to assistant direct the school recording of “One Stoplight Town” last year.
The bike racer calls herself an adrenaline junkie, and while it was difficult to balance sports and the arts, she is glad Hesford told her to audition.
“(Racing is) honestly really similar to theater,” Uglyar said. “You get on the stage and perform, and you have all of this energy. … You put your best foot out there and see how it goes.”
Opposite Uglyar are juniors Mimi Mocatta, Maggie Fisk, Riley Goossen and Leif Anderson as siblings Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter, respectively.
Anderson, like much of the cast, also got bit by the acting bug thanks to Backstage Theatre. He said the English accents were a challenge, but he’s happy to be in a show telling stories for the first time since he performed in “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” his freshman year.
Mocatta also was in “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.” Passionate about live theater, she performed as Juliette in “Romeo and Juliet” with Visionbox Studio Theatre in Denver, and she plans to pursue theater in college.
“Having acting still survive and having live theater still happen after COVID just really shows how strong and amazing the community is,” she said. “I’m just really happy we made it through. … It is so very exciting. We didn’t think we would get here this soon.”
Fisk, who placed with Goossen at the Colorado Thespian Conference as a freshman, was nervous about acting when she started in fourth grade, but now she finds herself doing character development to make Susan as real as possible. Her favorite moment of the play is when she gives Mocatta a raw, emotional embrace.
“I see the value in presenting a story to people, making them feel things, giving them a little bit of color in their life,” Fisk said. “And I definitely want to go forward into professional theater, so I can do that for larger audiences and just continue doing something with my life that I actually enjoy doing.”
The play will be presented at 7 p.m Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20, as well as at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21, at the high school auditorium, 16201 Colorado Highway 9, Breckenridge. Tickets can be purchased at the door, and cost $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. Masks are required.
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