It is not the easiest thing to create a theatrical production from the ground up. It is an especially difficult prospect when it includes writing, casting, costuming, directing, and other logistics from nothing more than an idea and a desire. Further Up and Further In: The Legend of Narnia is the title of the high school drama headed by Caryl Lipnick who wrote and directed the production. There were three performances, but I only attended the first one set on Friday, the 9th of November at 7:30 in the evening. Choosing this performance may have been an unfortunate choice as it was the first one. Opening nights are notorious for containing the most mistakes thanks to stage nerves and miscommunication. I know from personal experience that opening night horrors do occur. Opening nights often contain forgotten lines, cues, timing, and the ability to act. Further Up and Further In suffered from a few stage problems that prevented it from reaching its full potential yet still had plenty to admire. This production was the fourth annual production to be undertaken by Heritage Christian School’s drama club, and in the tradition of the previous three plays, it was held in Horizon Christian Academy’s Auditorium which is part of Horizon Christian Fellowship’s facilities off of Mt. Alifan Drive. The previous three plays The Sound of Music, Little Women, and Les Misérables were all very enjoyable and well produced, but they were created from a bigger base of existing material. Further Up and Further In was a labor of love created from the ground up with a new script and production assets. The performance I went to was packed with people and because of all the hard work and many hours put into producing the play, this attendance was earned. From trusted sources, the following two performances were well attended as well. Further Up and Further In’s script was pieced together from the narratives of The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Last Battle. These books from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis each comprised an entire act that were combined to create a single script that succeeded in capturing the magic and sentimentality of the books.
The single performance I attended was not devoid of problems. The sound system set up for the event was the primary source of a hampered experience. Specifically, lines of dialogue would be cut off with unforgiving frequency as the microphone signals seemed to miss the speakers and could not be heard. Conversations between characters were awkward when one actor’s microphone worked and their partner’s did not.
In minor addition, there were obnoxious screams from some of the actresses. They were too loud and frequent making me almost grateful for the sound problems. Otherwise I might have become deaf if they were any louder.
Overall, in nearly every other way, the performance was great. The sound effect design, which functioned despite the microphone problems, was solid and contributed greatly to the play. Some good examples include the humming sound that give a sense of power to the magic rings in the Magician’s Nephew portion of the play, the chaotic sound of being transported to another world, the sounds of a busy train station, and time period radio extracts were all well-chosen and positively affected the experience. The makeup and costume designs were above and beyond. Mr. Tumnus had a particularly well done and believable costume that featured horns and hocked furry goat legs. The White Witch (also known as Queen Jadis) had several fantastic costume changes that successfully gave her the sense of power and evil found in the books. The parts of the script that could be heard were thoughtful, reverent, and included specific dialogue and scenes from the books that pandered well to fans. One memorable scene comes to mind in which Diggory had grown up and requested a wardrobe to be made from the magic rings and remnants of the magic apple obtained from Narnia that grew together into an enchanted tree.
While the play suffered from some technical issues, it remained a heart–filled and loving adaptation of the core story and Christian themes of the Chronicles of Narnia. On many levels it was well above–average and showcased the potential of the production team and some of the actors. Without hesitation, I recommend seeing whatever the Heritage Christian Dram Club produces next.