TOP-NOTCH ‘CASTING’: New prosthetics give Newman’s ‘Narnia’ a facelift

By Adrienne Esposito, Staff Writer

For the first time, Newman’s theatre department is venturing into the world of prosthetics for its spring production, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Over Christmas break, technical design student James Leggett came forward with the idea of creating masks to make some of the non-human characters in the play appear more realistic.

“I’d never done this before. Honestly, I watched a couple of videos online… how to take life casts of people’s faces, then mold up from clay, then do a latex off of the clay,” Leggett said. “I thought, ‘I could try that.’”

Once the prosthetics hardened, Leggett painted each piece and trimmed them to fit the actors’ faces.

Costume designer Christy Railsback said that the only drawback is the time consuming process, noting that there’s been some trial and error since Christmas.

“We’ve been working on them for a couple weeks,” Railsback said. “We made one and liked it, but thought we could do better, so we started over.”

Leggett and the crew repeated the lengthy process for seven characters, including a lion, two leopards, two wolves and two beavers.

Junior Lucas Farney will be playing the role of Aslan in the production, and said that the prosthetics will bring life to the fantasy of the story.

“I feel like it helps us stay true to the characters… I love it because I’ve never had to do something like this before,” Farney said.

Railsback attributes all of the hard work to Leggett, noting that he’s a student and is donating his time to the production.

“The only reason this is happening is because of James... I would not have time to do all the costumes and make all of these,” Railsback said.

Farney agreed with Railsback.

“James really stepped up, and he didn’t have to,” Farney said. “He’s spent so much of his own time working on it.”

Newman’s production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” will premiere tonight at 7 p.m. There will be showings at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. both tomorrow and Saturday, then the production will wrap up at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

PHOTO: "THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE" will include the Theater Department’s first crack at prosthetic masks for the animals and fantastical creatures.  Branson Freeman, Staff Photographer