Around this time last year I was driving from Springville to Salt Lake for weekend performances of “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” at the Utah Children’s Theatre. It was an amazing experience to be part of this production to tell this powerful story. “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” was one of my favorite children’s books growing up. I love the allegorical symbolism and Christian messages that resonate even more deeply at this stage of my life.
Today I took a trip down memory lane and scrolled through my photos during the show. It was an emotional experience and I wanted to share some thoughts about what this show and role meant to me. 2018 brought with it a number of complicated health challenges that left a wake of grief, depression, and isolation. I knew I needed to break out of the funk I found myself in. I debated about whether or not to try out for the show, and after weighing out all the pros and cons, the pros seemed to far outweigh the cons. I decided to go for it.
When I auditioned for the show, I was hoping to get cast as The Tree Goddess again (which I played four years ago at Utah Children’s Theatre). I love being in the ensemble and wanted to have another experience like that. I was both surprised and freaked out of my mind when I got cast as Mrs. Beaver. I have never played a lead like this at UCT and was a bit intimidated by the prospect. It turned out to be an opportunity to grow in ways I would not have expected.
Having somewhere to be several nights a week helped me break out of the darkness and isolation of depression. Being surrounded by friends old and new helped to reconnect. Being able to express big emotions in big ways was therapeutic. Telling a meaningful story with spiritual significance to Christmas also felt healing. All the work was worth it when it finally came time to open the show.
One of the neat things about being in plays is being able to make friends and memories you never had before. The Utah Children’s Theater has a yearly tradition of a white elephant gift exchange for cast members in the Christmas show. The family of the actor who played Edmund gave everyone a stuffed animal that represented their character. I still have this cute little beaver as a token reminder of this experience!
Our cast was invited to perform the show at the home of a young lady named Lydia. It was her Christmas “Make A Wish” to see the play. We performed in her basement while she and her family sat on the couch. What a special experience!
Lydia and her family are such big fans of the story that they even have a wardrobe in their entry that opens up into a hand-painted Narnia room, complete with lamp post!
This is our show director, Joanne Parker, standing in front of Lydia’s wardrobe. Joanne is an incredible woman and friend! This was such a memorable experience that meant so much to everyone who was able to participate.
Wally brought me a bouquet of a dozen roses to the stage backdoor on opening night. Seeing his cute face and knowing he was going to be in the audience that night meant the world to me. I feel so blessed to be married to my best friend who is so supportive of all my endeavors.
Many of my friends and family came to show their support, including my oldest sister Tracy who flew in from out of state as a surprise with my niece and nephew! It was a total shock to see her walk out the door of my sister Kristin’s house when I had no idea she would be there. I am grateful for the love and support of my family!
This play also had special significance as it would be one of the last times my Dad would see me perform on stage. His three and a half year battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) has taken a serious toll and he may not be with us much longer. Just one year ago, he was still walking and talking like his old self with the use of a neck brace. I remember him sitting on the front row the night my whole family came to see the play and being able to come right up next to him during one of the scenes. Seeing photos like this means so much to me now.
There is much about this life that seems at times too much to bear. Sometimes our trials come all at once. When it rains, sometimes it pours. I have found myself often asking, “Why this? Why him? Why our family? Why now?” I can tell you that I know now that there has been purpose and meaning in my Dad’s illness. It has been a refiner’s fire not only for my Dad but every member of my family. It has not broken us, even though at times we have felt close to it. If anything it has helped us sink our roots deeper into our faith in Jesus Christ.
Every show I delivered a set of lines that meant more and more to me with each passing performance. In a way, it felt like an opportunity to bear my testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ and His role in our losses:
Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight.
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more.
When he bears his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again!
That is the hope that He gives to me and to all of us. He will make up all of our losses. He is the hope that I hold on to. He is my rock. In Him I trust. Wrong will be right. Sorrows will be no more. Winter meets its death… all because of Jesus Christ.
During the war scene at the end of the play, Mrs. Beaver was turned to stone by the White Witch’s evil wand. I remember standing frozen, waiting until Aslan came to breathe life back into my bones. As I shook free from the curse, I often felt wrapped in the comfort of the Spirit while on stage. I knew that my Dad’s body that has been progressively slipping into paralysis would one day be resurrected. Because of Christ, my family will be reunited again after this life. Because of Him, all happy endings are possible.
This wasn’t just a play. This wasn’t just a role. It was an answer to my prayers in so many ways.
I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to be part of this production. CS Lewis and his conversion to Christianity continues to touch lives through his beautiful writing even today. He is an inspiration! Never underestimate the power of a children’s story, especially this classic!
P.S. Below is a fun little video I put together of how I did my stage makeup for this character if you’d like to check it out… 🙂
Love & Light,