Fantasy tale transformed for Christmas

The cast of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe rehearsing at Chichester Festival Theatre
The cast of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe rehearsing at Chichester Festival Theatre
Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

BIG INTERVIEW Benjamin Zephaniah: 'I'm always creative – I've never had writer's block and never been bored'

Have your say

A tale of talking animals and sword fights over sacred kingdoms, C S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is one of the most popular children’s novels of all time.

After being published in 1950, a wardrobe was never just a simple piece of furniture standing quietly in the corner of your bedroom again, but a gateway to impossible adventures in far away lands.

In the novel a young girl climbs inside one such wardrobe while hiding from her siblings, and discovers the magical (and mysteriously frozen) land of Narnia. The lives of Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, are never the same again.

And Chichester Festival Youth Theatre is putting on a stage version of the dramatic story this Christmas period, from December 17-31.

After only joining the youth theatre in April this year, David Rennie, who lives in Havant, is playing one of the starring roles as Edmund.

He says: ‘I’m really enjoying rehearsing for it, especially as they are getting a lot longer now it’s so close. We’ve had to have time off school for it which is exciting.’

Even though the 12-year-old was already a member of the theatre, winning the part involved a lengthy audition process.

‘I auditioned in September and there were lots of stages we had to go through. In the first stage we had to do things such as improvising, and Dale Rooks the director picked up about 10 or 20 people in my year to go onto the next stage.

‘I was short-listed as Edmund, and I got a letter through the post to say I was going to play him. I alternate the nights with another boy because I think it’s not allowed for one person to do them all. I’m looking forward to it.’

David is hoping the show will give him more chances to perform.

He explains: ‘It will be a massive opportunity for me to perform in such a big show, and I thought it would be brilliant because it’s over the Christmas period.

‘It’s a great experience, and so many people will come and watch it. It will be good for the future.’

At the moment all David wants to do is act.

He adds: ‘I want to do it for my career, I mean it seems to be panning out like that. It’s certainly something I’d love to do.’

The production is being directed by Dale Rooks, who has produced Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s Christmas productions for the past nine years.

A full list of performance dates and times is available from the website.

Tickets cost £11 to £23.50 from Chichester Festival Theatre on (01243) 781312 or go to


We have teamed up with Chichester Festival Theatre to give one lucky family (two adults and two children) a slightly belated Christmas present; the chance to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on December 30. All you have to do is answer this simple question:

In the famous children’s tale, what animal is Aslan?

A. Lion

B. Tiger

C. Panther

You can enter by text. Simply send a text message starting with pen aslan, the answer to the question plus your name, house number (or house name) and postcode to 61500. The total message must not exceed 155 characters. All text messages cost £1 plus standard network charge. The closing date for entries is midnight on December 20, 2011. Messages received after the closing date will not be counted but may still be charged. Normal News competition rules apply. Example of message: pen aslan answer john smith 1 po2 9sx

By supplying your telephone number you are happy to receive SMS/MMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. Service Provider: Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000. Ref: PEN1150COAC