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Theatre group celebrate 40th anniversary with ambitious Narnia production

PUBLISHED: 15:28 30 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 30 November 2019

Annabelle Hartley (who plays Lucy) and Barnaby Grindley (who plays Edmund) peak out of the wardrobe for New Buckenham Players production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Picture: Jonathan Hartley

Annabelle Hartley (who plays Lucy) and Barnaby Grindley (who plays Edmund) peak out of the wardrobe for New Buckenham Players production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Picture: Jonathan Hartley

Jonathan Hartley

A local theatre group is producing its most ambitious play yet as it celebrates 40 successful years of treading the boards in a Norfolk village.

The life size puppet of Aslan that puppeteers will bring to life in New Buckenham Players production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Picture: Jonathan HartleyThe life size puppet of Aslan that puppeteers will bring to life in New Buckenham Players production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Picture: Jonathan Hartley

New Buckenham Players is putting on a production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe complete with a larger than life size puppet of Aslan the lion.

The imposing Aslan is partly inspired by the horse puppetry which featured in the acclaimed West End play, War Horse, with puppeteers bringing the lion to life by operating inside the creature on stage.

Chairman and co-director Sally Elvin said: "With it being our 40th anniversary we wanted to try and create a really special production.

"We're giving a lot of our younger cast members some big roles for the first time and they have really risen to the challenge and superbly complement the more experienced actors.

Annabelle Hartley (who plays Lucy) and Barnaby Grindley (who plays Edmund) in the New Buckenham Players production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Picture: Jonathan HartleyAnnabelle Hartley (who plays Lucy) and Barnaby Grindley (who plays Edmund) in the New Buckenham Players production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Picture: Jonathan Hartley

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"Of the 26 actors, 14 of them are children. It's great to know there's so much younger talent available which is important for the future of the theatre group.

"The crew has always been a huge part of New Buckenham Players and has become well known for its excellent sets. It's great that they can showcase their talents and have one of the starring roles by helping to create the impressive and imposing Aslan."

The Players has come a long way since the idea for a production company was hatched over a few drinks in the village's King's Head pub back in 1979. Since then it has gained a lot of critical acclaim, putting on more than 100 productions and even performing at the Edinburgh Festival.

Co-director Ellie Hupton said: "I've always wanted to put on a production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and I'm delighted with how it's worked out. It's a great play that works on lots of different levels and can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

"The play has a lovely wintery feel and there's even an appearance by Father Christmas."

- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe will be performed at New Buckenham Village Hall on December 5, 6 and 7 at 8pm, with a matinee on Saturday, December 7 at 2.30pm. Tickets £9, children £5 (matinee only) from King's Stores in the village or on 01953 861438/860320.

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