Casting Announced for World Premiere of THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE at Imagination Stage, 6/20-8/12


Imagination Stage, in a collaboration with The Washington Ballet, has announced casting for its world premiere summer production, THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE. In this fusion of theater, dance, and puppetry, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis, the roles of the four children are played jointly by an actor and a dancer, and the courageous lion Aslan is portrayed by a life-size puppet operated by three actor/puppeteers, similar to the puppets used in the Broadway production War Horse.

The four children’s roles are played by Imagination Stage veterans Christopher Wilson (Peter), Kate Guesman (Susan), and Rafael Cuesta (Edmund), and newcomer Justine Moral (Lucy). The roles are danced by: Laura Chachich (Susan), and Daniel Savetta (Edmund) – members of The Washington Ballet’s Professional Trainee Program, and Francesca Forcella (Lucy), a member of The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company. The Washington Ballet’s Morgann Rose portrays the White Witch. Aslan’s puppeteers are Michael John Casey (who also provides his voice) and Betsy Rosen.

The cast of The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe also includes Sara Beth Pfeifer (Mrs. Beaver/Voice of the White Witch) and Chong Sun (dancing as Tumnus/Elf). The dancer for the role of Peter and the third Aslan puppeteer are currently being cast.

The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe runs in Imagination Stage’s Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Theatre June 20 through August 12. Appropriate for ages 5 and up, tickets are $10 to $27, and may be purchased online at, at the Imagination Stage box office, or via phone at 301-280-1660. Group rates are available.

Imagination Stage’s Artistic Director Janet Stanford says, “The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe is the Shakespeare of Theatre for Young Audiences—its theme is so epic and so adored by fans that Imagination Stage has not tackled a full scale production of it before. The opportunity to collaborate with The Washington Ballet has given us the chance to create a new theatrical language for the story. Dancers, actors, singers, and puppeteers combine their talents in our show making a world on stage that is larger than life and that will make our audiences feel a part of Narnia’s magic as they never have before.”

In this British wartime tale, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter are sent off to the countryside to avoid the Blitz. Homesick and restless, the siblings find themselves at odds with one another until Lucy discovers a magical wardrobe that leads them into the fantastical world of Narnia. There, the four become embroiled in an enduring battle between the evil forces of the White Witch and her arch nemesis, the great lion Aslan. It’s a courageous adventure with terrible betrayals, enormous struggles, heroic deeds, and noble kings and queens.

THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE is directed by Janet Stanford, who also serves as lyricist and librettist. The newly commissioned music is composed by New York-based violinist Matthew Pierce. The Washington Ballet’s Artistic Director Septime Webre and Associate Artistic Director David Palmer have created the show’s choreography. Minneapolis-based designer Eric J. Van Wyk has designed and created the ambitious and unique set, as well as the Aslan puppet. The remainder of the creative team includes several local artists—Music Director George Fulginiti-Shakar, Lighting Designer Colin Bills, and Costume Designer Kathleen Geldard.

THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE runes from June 20 – August 12, 2012.

Show Schedule:

· Tuesday through Friday at 10:30 am
· Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm
· Special performances on Monday, July 2 at 10:30 am and Friday, August 10 at 7:00 pm
· No performance on Wednesday, July 4
For ages 5 and up

Special Opportunities:
· $10 Preview Performances June 20 and 21
· ASL interpreted performance: July 1 at 4:00 pm
· Meet the cast after every 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm weekend performance

Imagination Stage
Located At: 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD
Parking: Metered parking in the adjacent public parking garage; parking is FREE on weekends
Metro: Red Line / Bethesda Station
For Information: 301-280-1660 or

BIOGRAPHIES (in alphabetical order)

Michael John Casey (Voice of Aslan, Puppeteer, Mr. Beaver) was most recently seen at Imagination Stage as Simon (among others) in Rapunzel. Other roles at Imagination Stage: Harold in Bunnicula, George in George & Martha: Tons of Fun, Mr. Huntington in The Day John Henry Came to School, Stubby Barbossa/Sneep in the summer Pirate Rep, El Duque in Ferdidnand the Bull; Farmer Alfalfa and many others in Busytown; Falkor/Bookseller in The Neverending Story; King/Pap in Huck Finn's Story; Damaris/Cass in Callisto V. Other regional theatres include African Continuum Theatre, Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, Catalyst Theater, Constellation Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Fulton Opera House, Geva Theatre, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Keegan Theatre, Longacre Lea Productions, Project Y Theatre, Rochester Children’s Theatre, Rorschach Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Solas Nua and Washington Shakespeare Company. Training: MFA, Drama, Catholic University of America; BA, Theatre Arts, Nazareth College of Rochester. SAFD.

Laura Chachich (Dancer-Susan), of Bel Air, Maryland, began her dance education with Jessica Treherne at Harford Dance Theatre. She then went on to study at North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA), under Ethan Stiefel, Warren Conover, and Nigel Burley. At NCSA, Laura had the opportunity to perform many principal roles, such as Sugarplum in Ethan Stiefel's The Nutcracker, Odette in Ethan Stiefel's Swan Lake, and a featured dancer in Johan Kobborg's World Premiere, Salute. After attending many summers at the Miami City Ballet School, Laura was invited to train year round under Carter Alexander and Edward Villella. In 2011 she was given a full scholarship to study in The Washington Ballet's Trainee Program under Monique Meunier and Kee Juan Han. Laura is looking forward to join The Washington Ballet as a member of the Studio Company next season.

Rafael Cuesta (Edmond) is excited to return to Imagination Stage, where he recently appeared in P'Nokio. Washington DC credits include In the Blood (The Hegira); Two Gentlemen of Verona (St. Mark's' Players); Moving the Chains: The Darryl Hill Story (Lincoln Theatre); and more. Rafael has produced and designed sound for Stage 4 and Signature Theatre and holds a BA in Politics from Virginia Tech. Special thanks to his mom and daughter, and the cast, crew, and support staff of Imagination Stage and The Washington Ballet!

Francesca Forcella (Dancer-Lucy) of South Brunswick, New Jersey, is in her first season with The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company. She began her training with her aunt and teacher Gina Forcella. At age 12, she trained classically under Susan Jaffe and Risa Kaplowitz in Princeton, NJ. From ages 16-18, she danced with Houston Ballet II under the direction of Stanton Welch, Claudio Munoz and Sabrina Lenzi. While with HBII, Ms. Forcella had many opportunities to perform nationally and internationally.

Kate Guesman (Susan) is delighted to return to Imagination Stage, where she's previously appeared in Heidi, George and Martha: Tons of Fun, The Day John Henry Came to School, Mouse on the Move, and Aquarium. Other DC credits include Charming Billy (Round House Theatre); The Light in the Piazza (Arena Stage); Rumplestiltzkin (Charter Theatre); and Seasons of Light (Smithsonian's Discovery Theatre). She also appears as a historical interpreter at the National Museum of American History, starring in their Broad Stars, Bright Stars program. Ms. Guesman received a BA in Theatre from the George Washington University.

Justine Moral (Lucy) is thrilled to return to Imagination Stage. National Tours: South Pacific (Ngana), Les Miserables (Ensemble). Regional: Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Babes in Toyland (Bo Peep), What's a Wolf To Do? (Little Red), A Chorus Line (Connie), Meet Me In St. Louis (Lucille Ballard), Mulan (Mulan/Mushu Understudy). Other Credits: The Drowsy Chaperone (Janet Van de Graff), The Wiz (Dorothy), Ariel's Tempest (Ariel). Justine studies vocal Performance at the JHU-Peabody Conservatory.

Sara Beth Pfeifer (Voice of White Witch, Mrs. Beaver) was last seen at Imagination Stage in the 2009 production of Ferdinand the Bull as Cochina. Favorite past credits also include Silly Girl in Beauty and the Beast and Mrs. Mops in A Christmas Carol, both at Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Sarah Beth holds a BM in Musical Theatre from The Catholic University of America.

Morgann Rose (White Witch) of Lake Forest, California, is in her 11th season with The Washington Ballet after dancing one season with Elliot Feld's Ballet Tech in New York City. She began her training with Rebecca Wright, Tania Lichine and David Allen. She received scholarships to several prominent summer programs including the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and National Ballet of Canada. Ms. Rose graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts high school program before joining her first ballet company. In addition to dancing with The Washington Ballet, she has been a guest artist with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Carolina Ballet, City Dance Ensemble and ARKA Ballet. Some of her principal roles have included Myrta in Giselle, Snow Queen in Septime Webre's The Nutcracker, Effe in La Sylphide and Choleric in The Four Temperaments. Recently, Ms. Rose has become a certified Gyrotonic instructor.

Betsy Rosen (Puppeteer) is very excited to be working with Imagination Stage and The Washington Ballet. Regional acting credits include Astroboy…, The Long Christmas Ride Home (The Studio Theatre); Pride and Prejudice, … Owen Meany (Round House Theatre); Velvet Sky (Woolly Mammoth); Much Ado… (Taffety Punk); Rape of Lucrece (Washington Shakespeare Company); Antigone (Forum Theatre); Courage (Dog and Pony). Puppetry credits include Single Carrot Theatre, Folger Theatre, Factory 449, Dog and Pony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, MadCap Theatre, DC Fringe, and Madeira School, among others. Betsy received degrees in Theatre and Mathematics from University of Maryland College Park.

Daniel Savetta (Dancer-Edmund) was born in Sydney, Australia, where he began his dance training at age 10. Daniel started his serious ballet training at Alegria Ballet Studios under the direction of Hilary Kaplan and Archibald McKenzie. In 2010, upon completion of his course in Australia, Daniel received a full scholarship to train at the Miami City Ballet School under the guidance of Carter Alexander. During his training in Miami, Daniel had the opportunity to perform many principal roles such as Harlequin in Edward Villella's Harlequin a Patch Work of Love and Prince Siegfried in Balanchine's Swan Lake. After a year of training in Miami, Daniel received a full scholarship to train at The Washington School of Ballet as a Trainee with Kee Juan Han. This past year he has performed in many company productions such as Septime Webre's The Great Gatsby, Nutcracker, and most recently Alice (In Wonderland). Daniel is very excited to be joining The Washington Ballet next season as a member of the Studio Company.

Chong Sun (Dancer-Tumnus, Elf) of Beijing, China, is in his second season with The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company. He began training in 2002 at the Beijing Dance Academy, and in 2008 placed 3rd at the Beijing International Ballet Competition. In 2009, he trained with Anatoli Kucheruk and Marat Daukayev at the Kirov Academy (Washington, DC). In 2011, he placed 2nd in the pas de deux group at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando and was invited to perform at its All Stars Gala.

Christopher Wilson (Peter) is happy to return to Imagination Stage, where he has previously been seen in The Jungle Book, Looking for Roberto Clemente, Heidi, The Dancing Princesses, Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, The Wind in the Willows, and Aladdin’s Luck. Other local credits include Alice (Round House Theatre); The Second Shepherds’ Play (Folger Shakespeare Library); and Barrio Grrrl! (The Kennedy Center; Theatre for Young Audiences). Chris graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in Theatre. He can next be seen in Fly, at Ford’s Theatre.

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