BWW Interview: Zac Johnson of PRINCE CASPIAN at Logos Theatre

BWW Interview: Zac Johnson of PRINCE CASPIAN at Logos Theatre

Are you ready to return to Narnia?

Logos Theatre brings back their popular production of Prince Caspian, the second book in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Featuring incredible costumes and makeup along with astonishing life-sized puppets, the show is a true theatrical spectacle.

BWW recently spoke to Logos Theatre's Zac Johnson to find out a little more about the return of this epic tale.


First, please tell us a little about yourself.

I'm one of the assistant directors. We have about three or four and the main director would be Nicole Stratton. I also play the role of Dr. Cornelius in the production. It's an original script written by Nicole. She also directs it, and as far as we know we're the only professional company in the world producing this story.

What was the genesis of this production?

Everything started several years back when we decided to do the first chronicle of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, And it was a big deal and we were very successful with it, so that sort of paved the way to us wanting to do Prince Caspian as a story. So we got permission from the C.S. Lewis company in England - through Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis' stepson - to do that story, Prince Caspian, on stage. And it was a very lengthy process getting the script approved. There were a lot of different little things he wanted changed and specific things he wanted approved of, but once we got that he actually flew out from Malta to be at the world premiere of the production. We presented it for the first time in 2016, sold out 16 performances and just had a great, great show of it. So we did it again in the summer and now we're bringing it back again this spring.

Is this remount any different from last year's production?

There are some tweaks. We always try to make everything we do better when we do it. We still consider this within the same run of the original, but there are a lot of cast differences. And we always try to do things quicker and smoother, so there are a few tweaks to make it more tight and enjoyable for the audience. We're always trying to make it better than we did it before.

Can you tell us a little about the story?

The story picks up - it plays a lot off of what happens in the previous book - but it picks up in an English train station with Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, four English children. They get swept away from the station and back into Narnia where they'd previously had some adventures. But when they get there, they find that Narnia is not how they remembered it, it's darker and the creatures they knew before are not there anymore and Narnia is ruled by the evil telmarines. and one of the telmarines is named Prince Caspian, and he's the rightful heir. But his uncle Miraz wants his own son to be king and is basically chasing Prince Caspian. Prince Caspian loves old Narnia and these other animals, together with Prince Caspian, are fighting to put Prince Caspian on the throne and help establish him as the true king of Narnia.

We do a good job of catching the audience up, especially for those who aren't as familiar with the stories or the lore of Narnia. I think Caspian is a good standalone piece because we do remind and recap for the audience.

My son loves the book Prince Caspian. He says it's his favorite. How do you think the story rates in the series?

I quite enjoy it the more we've gotten to do it. It was one of my least favorite of the seven Narnia books until we got a chance to actually do it, and sitting down and looking at the story and thinking about it, it's become very near and dear because there's so much truth in the story. It's bigger than just a story. There are so many important underlying lessons that the author is communicating and I think getting a chance to see it kind of deconstructed on stage enables you to pick up on those things a little bit easier than if you were just reading the book. It's a wonderful story.

What makes the story such a challenge that you're perhaps the only company producing it on stage?

Characters have to appear and disappear, there's a massive bridge that has to be destroyed by a water god, Prince Caspian rides away on a horse, there are flying animals and trees - the list goes on. There are so many practical special effects that go into the production that most companies balk at it. But what we do is, we have a character who walks through a set of trees and completely disappears, we go ahead and we destroy a bridge with a water god. And one of the things we're blessed with at the Logos Theatre is a turntable, which means the stage completely revolves around in circles, and we get that moving and we can put set pieces on it, we can put actors on stilts dressed as trees on it, and we can walk our actors around it and give that sense of journey that's so important to C.S. Lewis' books. The revolving stage really helps us do that.

How many people are involved in the show?

It's huge. Anytime you've got a production that has strange creatures from a foreign world, the costume department and the make up department have to be on their "A" game. There's anywhere between 50 and 90 involved with this production.

What are your favorite parts?

There's an epic battle that takes place, complete with slow motion and you have all these actors on stage fighting, and the spotlight will show you certain highlights that you need to look at in the battle, and those guys go full bore. And it's all choreographed to music, and all very cinematic. My favorite part of the story, though, is where Lucy and Aslan, the big lion, have a conversation. He's kind of the lord of Narnia, and he's invisible to pretty much everyone except Lucy. And Aslan asks her to follow him, even if her brothers and sisters don't see him. It's a really tender scene and really pregnant with meaning from many different points. And it's acted with a high degree of sensitivity and it's just a very precious scene. So that sweet emotional conversation between Aslan and Lucy is probably my favorite moment in the story.


Prince Caspian runs through April 28 at Logos Theatre, 80 School Street, Taylors, SC. For more information call 864.268.9342 or visit thelogostheatre.com.

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