The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 3, 2014

Fantasy, reality converge in Merely Players' 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'

Fantasy, reality converge in Merely Players' 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'

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"I've done two plays at (Minnesota State University) and the Prairie Fire plays," she said, citing recent MSU productions of "Les Miserables" and "Sound of Music" in addition to productions held in Mankato by the professional touring children's theatre. "I just really like being in plays."

Several Merely Players veterans are playing supporting roles, however, and their talents bring vibrance and color to the storytelling.

Launa Helder, who has served as an actor and director for a variety of area theatre productions, plays the part of the White Witch, who has ruled the land for a century in a period of extended winter and is fearful of a prophecy involving four human children who will save Narnia. Punctuating her icy machinations with scowls and shrieks, Helder performs with convincing menace.

Likewise for the chief of her secret police, Fenris Ulf, who is played by Taylor Anderson. The 24-year-old is participating in his eighth consecutive Merely Players production, and his third as a villain. Clad in black, Anderson stalks the human children with a stentorian cackle. He pants and growls even when his character is not speaking and moves with a sort of savage force.

"I'm just naturally this evil," he joked.

Another pair of theatre veterans, Molly Smith and Leslie DuPree-Cady, added their expertise as costume designers. And theirs was no small task. With such characters as porcupines, badgers, unicorns and bears, the pair of costume artists had to be creative in assembling (and repairing) the large and tedious wardrobe.

The scene design is also impressive with a large backdrop and set pieces suitable for scenes at the lamppost (which is the first waypoint once the children enter Narnia), Mr. and Mrs. Beaver's dining room, the White Witch's castle and Tumnus' home.

"There are definitely a couple funny parts, but it's mostly serious and magical," said Joseph Witte, who plays the eldest sibling, Peter.

Glackler-Riquelme added: "Hopefully, people feel the emotion."

If You Go What "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" Performances 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday as well as April 11 and 12; also 2 p.m. on April 6 and 13. All performances at Lincoln Community Center. Tickets $15 (adults), $12 (seniors) and $9 (students); available for purchase at www.merelyplayers.com, by calling 507-388-5483 or at the door.

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