The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most elaborate and challenging stage show Chiawana High's drama department has tackled to date.
But outrageously cool productions are nothing new to Pasco's newest high school as well as its drama teacher and director Todd Westendorf.
During his tenure as Pasco High School's drama department, he brought to life such tales as Peter Pan, Jungle Book, Charlotte's Web and Grease.
Westendorf surrounded himself with a bounty of talent to make sure The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which opens April 15, will have the audience blown away not only by the elaborate costumes and set but also by the youthful talent.
"The challenges of presenting a fantasy is to convince the audience that what they are really seeing could happen," Westendorf said. "Getting all the special effects to come together and be a believable part of the show on stage is, well, tough."
But his drama students and technical staff came through with flying colors, he added.
The troupe also will take the show to Scotland this summer for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
"Every August, Edinburgh becomes the most magical and exciting place on Earth as performing artists from all over the world come to take part in the festival," he said.
The festival features more than 18,000 performances in music, theater, dance and comedy during its three-week run.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe performances in the Tri-Cities will help fund the trip. Showtimes are 7 p.m. April 15-16, 22-23 in the auditorium at Chiawana High School. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens and are available at the door.
For those not familiar with the classic children's story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is set in the land of Narnia where magic abounds. It also follows the great lion king Aslan who rules Narnia and the four children who befriend him -- Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan.
Then there's the evil White Witch who is determined to make Narnia her kingdom and kills Aslan. But good triumphs over evil when Lucy and Susan resurrect the great lion and he ends up saving the kingdom.
"This is a story of love, faith, courage and giving," Westendorf said.
The elaborate costuming was created by Tri-Citian Verna Schwilke, with Westendorf wearing several technical hats for the production -- light, set and sound design.
Schwilke has designed numerous costumes for stage productions in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene theater as well as loaned her expertise to several local community theater events, Westendorf said.
The student actors portraying the key roles are Delaney Rogers as Aslan, Alexandra Cid as the White Witch, Rachel Ross as Lucy, Carl Howald as Edmund, Allison Barmettlor as Susan, and Taylor Storaci as Peter.
Portraying an evil witch wasn't as difficult as she thought, said Cid, 17, a junior at Chiawana.
"Being evil comes naturally in the human race," she joked. "The most challenging part overall is trying to keep children intrigued and entertained and, best of all, scared of me."
Rogers' experienced a bit of a challenge portraying Aslan because she's more intuned to comedy roles, she said.
"I find now that I enjoy playing dramatic characters just as much as comedic ones," said Rogers, a 16-year-old junior. "Roaring was also a huge struggle. It took weeks of trying out different roars and playing with sound effects and pitch manipulation for me to finally nail it."
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe won't be the first elaborate show for Chiawana High this school year. Later this year, the theater department will present the Broadway hit musical Beauty and the Beast.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org