When Chris Leary was cast as the White Witch in Pollard United Methodist Church’s upcoming “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” she was surprised, she said.
“I took my daughter to audition, then she said ‘Mom, you should audition for the White Witch,’” Mrs. Leary said with a laugh.
But the casting may have been providential, she said.
“One of the concepts I really struggled with was a God who was kind and loving,” she said.
Because of various life events — Mrs. Leary mentioned being orphaned at an early age — she had “a lot of depression and rage toward Him,” she said.
So for her, playing the character who kills Aslan, a supposition for Christ, was cathartic.
“There was some provision for me in that, when I think about Jesus dying for us. He knew I needed to have this role,” she said. “It was a surprising experience for me, spiritually speaking. I felt very hurt by God, and He was saying, ‘I know you’re angry, and I can take it.’ … I’m very straightforward with God about where I am. I think that’s what it means to be a believer.”
Pollard does two shows every year: a play in the fall and a musical, usually directed at children, in the spring, director Derek Johnson said. This year, they decided to do a fall show with children at the center.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” “empowers children,” he said. “We all have our temptations; it shows humans at their worst and their best. But it also shows that everyone can have hope and redemption.”
The four children, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, are played by Madison Sims, 10; Thomas Booth, 9; Nadine Booth, 15; and Chris Fisher, 17.
“They are very bright actors,” Johnson said.
Billy Perdue, who plays the professor and Father Christmas, has been involved with the Pollard theater since 1985 but feels the group has really outdone itself this year, especially with costumes and makeup, he said.
The show also features an original score, written by Arnold Sherman, Pollard’s director of music and the arts.
Perdue also said that many of the cast and crew aren’t members of Pollard and the program doesn’t receive funding from the church, just the space for the show.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s like a family.”
The play runs from Wednesday to Oct. 5. Tickets are $15, or $10 for children younger than 12. The shows are at 7:30 p.m., plus a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Oct. 5.