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'Narnia' world explored on local stage

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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In real-life stories, when good battles evil, the good aren’t always so good, and the evil — well, sometimes they kind of have a point. But when C.S. Lewis conceived his epic series, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” he conceived a world in which the good guys were really good, and the bad guys were downright dastardly. Other than an occasional sassy remark, or an out-of-sorts moment when the main characters try to figure out what it means to grow up, the Pevensie children are boys and girls with hearts that are pure and golden. As with all great stories, though, before you see the sunshine, you have to stand a little rain. It’s this millennia-old battle of good versus evil that plays out on Sutter Street’s stage in their production of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” which runs through Oct. 16 in the Folsom Historic District. The White Witch brings the proverbial rain in droves as she tricks and charms to get her way, all in the name of advancing her evil quest. At the end of the night, the show is about choosing the right path, and about redemption. “Stories like this present moral choices and the consequences of those choices – I think that’s very important,” said Randall Kilgore, who plays Aslan the Lion, a character who has been likened to God in Lewis’ famous tales. “C.S. Lewis was, as many people know, a very religious man. But the “Narnia” stories certainly don’t read chapter and verse from the Bible. The stories stand alone, but all the principles are in there,” Kilgore said. Allen Schmeltz, the show’s director, loves the stories and said he has wanted to do the play for years, but couldn’t find the right script — until now. “This script is wonderful, and this is the perfect time to do the show,” he said. The script, dramatized by Joseph Robinette, is a condensed version with a running time of under an hour and a half. “I’ve worked with Robinette before — he’s an amazing playwright,” Schmeltz said. “It’s a charming, charming play.” Schmeltz knows that a lot of fans have read the “Narnia” books and have seen the movies over the years, and those who haven’t been exposed to the series will surely seek the books out after seeing the show. “It’s not just a kids’ show, but not a serious drama, either,” he said. “The play will appeal to everybody.” Schmeltz credits his amazing cast with bringing this classic story to life. “When Randall auditioned for Aslan, you could hear a pin drop. He’s so awesome, and it’s such a crucial role,” he said. When it comes to literature, or great movies, what makes a classic a classic? “The story is timeless. It’s about good versus evil. It’s about what’s going on in the world today. There’s always a battle between good versus evil at any given time. It’s an exciting story, and hopeful too,” Schmeltz said. * * * KNOW AND GO What: “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia” When: 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Oct. 16 Where: Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom Tickets: $17 general, $15 SARTA and seniors, $13 children 12 and under Information: (916) 353-1001, sutterstreettheatre.com