Masks, theatrical make-up brings ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ to life

  • Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:01 a.m.
Students practice their roles in the production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Tuesday March 12, 2013.  The students are apart of the drama class at A.L. Brown High School located in Kannapolis NC. (Photo by Scott Myers)
Students practice their roles in the production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Tuesday March 12, 2013. The students are apart of the drama class at A.L. Brown High School located in Kannapolis NC. (Photo by Scott Myers)

KANNAPOLIS — Thirteen students at A.L. Brown High School spend the first hour of play rehearsal each day transforming into animals for “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Fact Box


Who: A.L. Brown High School students

What: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”

When: 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Kannapolis Performing Arts Center at A. L. Brown High School, 415 E.1st St.

Cost: $5 at the door

They use glue to apply prosthetic masks to their faces, which are then painted with theatrical make-up to create the full effect.

“You typically don’t find this in a high school,” said Jeremy Peterson, the school’s theatre arts teacher. “This would be a great thing for people to come see.

“The students have been very dedicated to putting them on and taking them off.”

Peterson said the masks are formed to fit the students’ jaws and noses.

“They have been really excited to become these animals,” he said.

The masks have been a challenge to the students, who have had to learned how to talk through the foam mouth opening.

“(It) pushes them to be creative and to move and think like they are animals,” Peterson said.

Anthony Sims, a sophomore who plays Aslan the Lion in the production, said people will get a good view of the masks from their seats because of their 3D properties.

But the masks have a downside.

“When you have to take it off, it’s painful,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s like ripping your skin off, but I would say it’s kind of like pulling duct tape off.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Dwiggins said putting on the prosthetic to play Mrs. Beaver is fun, but it can be a tedious task.

“It looks amazing when it’s on you … there’s a lot of background work in making it look this good,” she said. “Taking it off is a real pain.”

When Dwiggins isn’t on stage she’s behind the scenes dreaming up costumes for the cast of about 25 students.

“I designed every single costume,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of sewing in the past week to get all these costumes ready and perfect.”

Dwiggins can often be found at the school until 8 p.m. sewing pieces of fabric together.

“I want them to be nice and pretty, so when they go on stage it’s like this majestic costume,” she said. “It’s great to see it all come together.”

Peterson said he opted to do “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” rather than a musical this year because he knew creating the magical world of Narnia would be challenge.

“We chose a play that would require a lot of set, a lot of costumes and a lot of imagination,” he said. “We also wanted to challenge the students when choosing the show; this requires them to be animals, to be dwarfs …”

Sims said becoming Aslan the Lion has stretched his acting abilities.

“It’s very different from doing natural theater, which is acting as humans,” he said. “We get to have different postures, walk differently and have different voices. It’s pretty fun.

“It’s a pretty good way for me as an actor to experience different things in the world of theater.”

Dwiggins has done several plays at A.L. Brown, but called “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” a “really new experience.”

“We’re animals you know, so we’re not ourselves,” she said. “You have to put a lot of effort and dedication into it, so it becomes this magical Narnia land and not a high school on stage.”

Peterson allowed students who weren’t named animals to choose which one they would play.

“So we did end up with a rabbit, a mountain lion and a fox,” he said.

Junior Tessa Green said it’s been a dream to play Susan in the show.

“It’s awesome to be one of the main characters,” she said. “It was my favorite book when I was younger, I had the entire series of the Chronicles of Narnia.”

Students have helped build moving platforms for the sets and learned how to speak in a number of dialects.

“We have standard British, we have Cockney, we have Irish and we have Scottish that we are using in this show in order to communicate the character,” Peterson said. “We chose to set it in kind of mythical Ireland.”

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.



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