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Dancing into Narnia
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Artistic Director Sue Braddy says the booking of Savannah Danse Theatre’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on Good Friday this year was a happy accident.

“I was rather pleasantly surprised to find out the show falls on Good Friday,” Braddy says. “The show is a parallel of the Resurrection, and the deeper magic that Aslan performs. That’s what’s really nice about it.”

A mixup led to the serendipitous booking at the Lucas. “It just happened that Good Friday was open, so we decided that was for the best.”

Based on the immensely popular Chronicles of Narnia series of books by British author C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe tells the story of four children spirited off to a land called Narnia, ruled by a messianic talking lion named Aslan.

One of the children falls afouls of a wicked witch and must stay in her clutches according to Narnian law. However, in a parallel to the Christ story, Aslan makes an even greater sacrifice.

While having strong Christian overtones, the story’s uplifting message of the redemptive power of love is accessible to people of all backgrounds.

Savannah Danse Theatre has performed a similar production for the past two years, entitled The Roar of Love. However, those who have seen that show will find this year’s production to be quite different.

“There are brand new drops, brand new music and different choreography. It’s much more faithful to the book,” Braddy says.

Aiding Braddy in the facelift effort is Elizabeth Ragsdale and Christina Baggett, both of SDT, as well as Ron Jones of Augusta Dance Theater.

“We’ve redone all the choreography. There are several pieces of music from the last performance still in it, with lyrics that tell the story of the interpretation of the dance,” Braddy says. “And there’s much newer music to finish out telling the story in a more effective way.”

And of course there’s the name change, which will no doubt make the show more instantly identifiable.

“We made the change to actually call it The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe so that it would be more identified with C.S. Lewis’s book,” she says.

The changes Braddy has made to the show not only reflect a desire to keep it fresh; they reflect goals for her students as well, almost all of whom perform in the same shows each year, taking on more difficult roles as they grow older.

“I felt for my school and what I’m looking for, as far as artistic direction I wanted to enhance the movement so the kids would be a little more challenged,” says Braddy.

Playing the role of Aslan the saintly lion is Marty Leech, who has been dancing with SDT for three years.

Megan Foster will dance the role of the White Witch. “She’ll be graduating soon, and possibly continuing her dance training at the University of Georgia,” Braddy says.

Amber Amick dances as The Robin, the magical creature who leads the children to Aslan himself.

Playing the four children -- Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy -- are Chris Nelson, Tamara Voxnaes, Mercedes de la Sierra and Blake Seale, respectively.

The entire company of Savannah Danse Theatre fills out the remaining roles. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe will be performed by Savannah Danse Theatre Friday night, April 9 at 8 p.m. at the Lucas Theatre downtown. For ticket information call 525-5050.