‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ Winter Production around the corner

JACKSON, Wyo. – Arts aficionados can expect to be dazzled by Dancers’ Workshop presentation of Winter Production, Friday, December 13 thru Sunday, December 15.

Inspired by the C.S. Lewis classic ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” Winter Production is an all original endeavor featuring both junior and professional company talent over four days of shows with proceeds benefiting performance arts in Teton County.

Babs Case teaching Dancers’ Workshop students how to be mice. Photo: Lindley Rust Photography

“This is a beautiful story,” said Artistic and Executive Director and choreographer at Dancers’ Workshop Babs Case. “The selection reflects our performers’ desire to challenge themselves and to use what they’ve learned at Dancers’ Workshop to push beyond.”

A holiday tradition for the whole area and one of two annual occasions when Dancers’ Workshop students take to the stage in a professionally supported performance, 2019’s production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” takes place at The Center Theater. It is a multi-disciplinary vision led by Babs Case and Obie Award-winning actor, Bob Berky. The pair helms a full cast that combines student performers, professional dancers, faculty and community members.

Eric Midgley School Director with student performers. Photo: Lindley Rust Photography

“In total, there are about 130 participants to this year’s cast,” said Dancers’ Workshop School Director, Eric Midgley. “Of those, about 120 are student performers representing all ages.” Midgley, who moved to the Jackson area 3 years ago expressly to become involved at the school, rates Winter Production highly among its yearly calendar.

“A huge and impressive undertaking,” he said.

A stage show on a large scale, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is the product of ten week’s worth of Saturdays plus months of preparations. It boasts professional-level production of set, sound, and lighting. Performers launch into creative interpretation of the book via inventive character portrayal and personalized choreography enlivened by imaginative score selections.

“To make physically possible the impossible, we must use the art of theater,” Case said of production efforts. “This is a shift between the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary’ that is a pleasurable challenge and allows a freedom to create in any way we want.”

For the 2019 production, Utah Opera Company constructed a dynamic multi-component Wardrobe that accompanies stage drops that have been created by John Wayne Cook, a visual artist late of Walt Disney Productions. Guidance from the accomplished Bob Berky promises an injection of fresh, humorous energy to the C.S. Lewis tale. And each cast member’s role has been choreographed to carefully match that performer’s personal strengths and abilities.

Co-Director Bob Berky shares a warm moment with a student performer during rehearsal. Photo: Lindley Rust Photography

“By applying what they learn from DW’s dance training to this production and performance, our kids get the opportunity to see the real thing in a real theater,” Midgley said. “They get a sense of producing a show on a professional scale and playing a role to understand how it all works.”

Performed within The Center Theater at Jackson’s Center for the Arts, the full run of Winter Production 2019 begins with a single, 7 p.m. showing on Friday, December 13. It’s followed by dual showings Saturday, December 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. as well as a 4 p.m. showtime on Sunday, December 15.

A performance that commonly sells out all showtimes, Winter Production is a celebrated holiday tradition. And this year’s spin on “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” aims to be yet another annual favorite.

“To me, dance is the most inspiring art form,” Case said of the project. “It involves music and theater as well as using space like a blank canvas.”

“And there is something very touching about the vulnerability of live performances, no matter the age.”

Case says she finds reward in dance for its visible progression of perseverance through frustration to reach accomplishment. And she praises Winter Production as an extraordinary and complete team effort that blurs the performance line separating student and professional-level ability.

“Twenty-one years ago I began at Dancers’ Workshop with a goal to create four rotating presentations annually in which student performers would be completely supported by professional production and community,” she said.

“To see what students bring to that stage and how they grow throughout the process is a delight, as is providing such professional-grade performances to our community.”

Interested in attending? Buy tickets today!

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