Through the wardrobe: Carolina Friends School takes audiences to ‘Narnia’

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 12:05 AM

It’s a fairly ambitious undertaking, fitting the fantastical world of Narnia within the walls of the gymnasium at Carolina Friends School.
But that’s just what Henry Walker, director of the show, and the school community are doing this weekend.
“What I really like is having as much of the community working on this as possible,” Walker said.
Besides the 41 students in the cast, from those playing the Pevensie children who pass through a magical wardrobe into the wintry world of Narnia to the many who play talking animals conquered by the White Witch, the show also got help from several former students and parents.
The show, “Narnia,” is a musical adaptation of the classic C.S. Lewis fantasy novel, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” In it, four children from war-torn England find themselves allied with a magical lion named Aslan to free Narnia from the clutches of an evil witch who has declared herself queen.
A few years ago, for a production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Walker made sure everyone in the audience received chocolate from Southern Season. For “Narnia,” the treat that the crowd gets will be Turkish Delight – the confection that proved so addictive that it led Edmund Pevensie to agree to betray his siblings.
As rehearsal began on Wednesday night, Walker urged his young actors to immerse themselves in their roles.
“Use the whole space and let us all believe you,” he said. “It’s so amazing when you take that enormous ability you have and release it.”
The story begins with Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund Pevensie evacuating from London to the English countryside to escape German bombing during World War II.
Anthony Clay, director of advancement for the school, said that “Henry is drawing parallels to various conflicts around the world today in which children are suffering.
“In other words, he believes the story remains as timely as when C.S. Lewis wrote it.”
That’s common for Walker, Clay said. Before last year’s performances of “Inherit the Wind” – the dramatization of the famous evolution vs. creationism trial – he invited a Duke biologist to give a mini-lecture on evolution.
Roya Safi, a 12-year-old in seventh grade at Carolina Friends School, plays Edmund Pevensie. It’s a big jump from her small role as Sillers in “Inherit the Wind” to one of the lead spots in “Narnia.”
“He starts off kind of self-centered, but he’s brought into his voice after he meets Aslan,” she said.
She didn’t consider it too huge a challenge to play a boy. “I think it’s kind of cool.”
A limited number of tickets remain and can be purchased at the CFS Center Building through 4 p.m. on Friday or at the door. Check availability by calling 919-383-6602 or email

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WHAT: “Narnia”
WHERE: Carolina Friends School, 4809 Friends School Road, Durham
WHEN: Today at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: Limited. $8 for adults; $3 for students. Call 919-383-6602 or email to check availability.