Nevada Conservatory Theatre opens a door to ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’

Coco Lane Rigbye, front left, and her castmates in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’
Photo: Richard Brusky

Since it was first published in 1950, C.S. Lewis' beloved Chronicles of Narnia fantasy series has delighted generations of kids and adults. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, young Lucy leads her siblings through a mysterious wardrobe, leaving behind besieged World War II-era England for the otherworldly land of Narnia.

This December, UNLV's Nevada Conservatory Theatre presents a stage adaptation of the classic tale. It's directed by Ann-Marie Pereth, artistic director of Downtown's A Public Fit Theatre Company. In advance of the show, the Weekly spoke with UNLV theater major Coco Lane Rigbye, who plays Lucy.

What drew you to the role of Lucy? She's so full of wonder and curiosity and adventure that I just connect with her so well. She's just so sweet to play and so full of positivity.

Did you have any connection with the Narnia series as a kid? I watched the movies when I was a child. It's always been a wonderful fantasy land. ... As an actor, I've always thought of it as creating magic onstage. But in a fantasy, you really are trying to create these magical ideas onstage. It feels really fun, especially playing Lucy, because she's the one who's going full force into the magic and she's the first one to experience it all. I think that's why the director added so many creative elements—to really heighten the idea of fantasy and magic and a whole different world.

You're 22. How do you play an 8-year-old child? In my audition, I had this high-pitched voice, I was trying [too hard] to play young. But with any role, you just have to play it honestly and think about what the character would be thinking.

What are the unique joys and challenges of this play? The whole play has been a very fun challenge because director Ann-Marie Pereth has taken this story that could be quite simple and has totally improved it and made it quite crazy and very interesting, visually. We have a full-on ensemble, which we've called "Shape Shifters." They're playing stones and plants and trees. So we've added music, we've added movement. There's a lot of creative things going on in the show.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this show? The feeling of being a child again. ... Anyone who walks into the theater will feel like they are in a different world, full of hope and possibility and challenges. At the end of the day, it's all about friendship and how if we come together, we can tackle anything. It's going to be a fun escape for everyone. They're going to leave the theater feeling hopeful and delighted and like a child again.

THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE December 6-8 & 13-15, times vary, $28. UNLV's Judy Bayley Theatre, 702-895-2787.

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