Theatre under the Trees is back for its 2022 summer season with two imaginative productions that offer a fresh and unique take on classic stories.
Red Riding Hood is a musical adaptation of childhood a favourite.
Actor Brittney Martens, who plays nine-year-old Bridget, said the story follows a brother and sister duo who are trying to get some sleep while staying overnight at their grandmother’s house — and also trying to get their hands on some doughnuts.
“It’s like the classic tale, but with a twist,” Martens said.
Brendan Law, who plays Bridget’s seven-year-old brother Stephen, said he enjoyed playing the naive, imaginative and creative character who “is very scared of just about everything around him.”
“The fun is definitely in the imagination and the creativity and being able to feel young again, and really embracing that,” Law said.
The actors hope audiences will take away a sense of imagination from Red Riding Hood.
“I think it's just about having fun and feeling free to be able to imagine and create again, for a lot of people. Especially kids, that's what I'm hoping they'll take out of it at least, that they can tell their own stories and be creative and get as messy as you want with it,” Law said.
The second performance brings audiences through a wardrobe into the faraway land of Narnia, in an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was created for just four actors.
Morgan Benedict, who plays Lucy, said the small team has endeavoured to create a large fantasy world.
“The world of Narnia is filled with so many characters and so many people and places, yet we are doing it with four people doing all of the roles. So it's fast paced, it's moving, there's costumes and puppets,” Benedict said.
Rem Murray, who plays Edmund, said he thinks the story will resonate with audiences.
“[It’s] the story of children who are young, and they're still exploring, but they've been sent away to a place where they can't do that, they've been sent away from home and they're living in this strange new place,” Murray said.
“Through that place, where they feel kind of shy and cloistered, they find another place where they can go out and be thrust into an adventure, which I think will resonate with a lot of people in this time.”
Benedict and Murray say they hope the audience will come away with a sense that they can find adventure in everyday life.
“Don’t be afraid to find the magic in the world, even if it's hidden in a little wardrobe or wherever it is. I think it’s good to keep, as we get older that little spark of imagination,” Murray said.
“It's just finding those adventures in everyday,” Benedict said.
Catriona Leger, the director for the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, said working with Project X Theatre’s team of professional artists on the show has been a special experience.
Leger said the set, built in Prince Charles Park, was designed to work for both productions, which will run on alternating days through July.
“Not only does it have to be a professor's stodgy old house and a world where it's never ending winter, but it's also going to be a grandmother's attic and the forest on the way to grandmother's house and grandmother's house itself. So it's really, really versatile,” Leger said.
“You will notice the stairs are fashioned to look like books, and that is to give a nod to the fact that these are wonderful stories from our childhood — ones that we experienced in books first, and ones that we're really really lucky to bring to a larger than life way of being here in Prince Charles Park.”
The performances will run on alternating days from July 4 to July 23. More information on the shows and tickets can be found on Project X Theatre’s website.