The Magician’s Nephew, Shaw Festival Theatre

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If you’re reading this blog there’s a likeliness that you’re parents to young kids.  You’re also likely close to our ages (give or take) so you’ve likely read the Chronicle of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis?!

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I read them from cover to cover, as a book series, in elementary school and still remember their crinkled, worn out pages from me rereading them over and over…

Now, as a mom to two young children, balancing today’s technological world with interactive, educational experiences is one of my daily parenting goals.  It’s also one of the many bonuses of traveling with kids since they’re always exposed to new environments.  One exceptional way to engage your children’s minds, whether you’re on vacation or in your own hometown, is through theatre.

We went behind-the-scenes of the Shaw Festival Theatre’s production of “The Magician’s Nephew,” which is an adaptation of the prequel to the Narnia series.  The show runs from April 4 – Oct 13th.

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This particular on-stage adaptation is Directed by Tim Carroll and promises creative, family-focused interaction, which is a bonus for any families either visiting or residing near Niagara-on-the-lake.

Prior to performances, you can book and attend an intimate workshop at the theatre.  During this time, audience members might help design and make props that will be used on stage, learn certain songs, help with sound affects etc (as the season gets underway, workshop activities evolve and change).

Carroll says he’s seen actors play to the audience (especially to children) and at times, he’s witnessed an actor break that “wall” and speak directly to an child who fell off of her seat out of sheer joy.  It’s an experience you’ll never get at a movie theatre or through your technological devices, that’s for sure.

Although the website/program says the show’s intended for those ages 6+, parents can use their own discretion when purchasing tickets (if you’re unsure of whether it’s appropriate for your kids, you can always call and talk to the box office staff). The theatre offers booster cushions for those people needing an extra boost as well as special hearing devices.

The Magician’s Nephew incorporates a lot of lighting visuals as well as creative use of cardboard boxes.  It’s meant to play on that experience of kids opening presents and simply enjoying playing with the box.  What does a child see when they’re interacting with a cardboard box?  How does their imagination transform simple things into such magical worlds?  It’s a challenge Artistic Director Tim Carroll is taking on ferociously.  Although we were there for the first day of rehearsals, it was incredible to see the vision of all those involved.  From the costume designers and creators, to stage managers and prop specialists, everyone involved is determined to bring this magical story to life (and who knows, if all goes well, maybe we will see the entire series up on the Shaw Festival Theatre stage).

Costumes for shows like these have to last approximately six months and somehow withstand twirling, whirling and quick changes.  We had no idea that they only make one of each costume.  They’ve got a team on hand whom are responsible for maintaining costume upkeep (sewing on that emergency button, fixing ripped seems etc).

Tickets are on sale now for all shows started April 4th, 2018 and running until the end of October.

We recommend making it a little vacation with a “step back in time” type experience in Niagara-on-The-Lake.  The historic town offers delicious culinary/wine options, quaint hotels, historical sites and much more.

The Festival Theatres offers more than one show at any given time so tourists can see multiple productions during a one-day stay.  Most actors from The Magician’s Nephew will then appear in the other performance, “The Grand Hotel.”  It’s amazing that they can keep it all straight (some actors have up to six different language accents within one single show if he/she plays multiple parts).

Witnessing stories coming to life on stage is one of those experiences that can’t be replicated anywhere else.  Exposing children, early on, to theatre is a great way to help foster creativity.  From sound affects to lighting and costume, there are so many areas in which kids can witness imaginative development.

We’re honoured to have partnered with Shaw Festival in sharing details of The Magician’s Nephew with all of you.  They’ve got a lot of different performance options throughout the year, so check it out online.

You can make a little vacation out of it all by staying in Nigara-on-the-Lake and exploring Fort George, the quaint hotels/shops/restaurants, touring the renowned Niagara Falls and much more.

If you have any questions about The Magician’s Nephew or visiting Niagara-on the-Lake with your family, send us an email or leave a comment.

Have you taken your family to the theatre yet?  What do you think is the ideal age to expose kids to the performing arts?

As always, we’d love to hear from you.

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