Married University of Victoria theatre grads living their dream

What: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Where: Phoenix Theatre

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When: Opens tonight, continues to Oct. 18

Tickets: $16 to $24; 250-721-8000

Sure, they’re living on a budget in a postage-stamp-sized apartment. But Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon say they’re living their dream as husband-and-wife actors.

“We live frugal lives — the lives of artists,” said Williams, 28, who shares a 375-square-foot Vancouver home with her 30-year-old husband.

The couple are starring in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, opening tonight at the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre. The two-hander is adapted from C.S. Lewis’s 1950 novel about children who enter the enchanted land of Narnia via a wardrobe portal. Williams and Mack play a dizzying myriad of characters, including witches, fauns and lions.

The 90-minute production, aimed at family audiences, is part of the Phoenix Theatre’s Spotlight on Alumni series. Williams (class of ’09) met Gordon (class of ’08) while the pair were studying theatre at UVic.

As well as performing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Williams and Gordon have talked to theatre students about their experiences as Vancouver-based theatre professionals.

Among their advice: Be flexible when it comes to accepting work. As well as acting in theatre, the couple’s joint resumé includes working as historical interpreters in Barkerville and performing in training exercises staged by police departments.

“We pretend to be bad guys,” Williams said, “and they arrest us.”

One of her most esoteric gigs was pretending to be a “lost girl” from The Blair Witch Project for a Halloween party. It was an unorthodox assignment — for some reason, she performed in a room decorated with fake marijuana plants someone had pilfered from Weeds, the TV series.

“I had to yell: ‘Save me! Save me!’ And then a guy would come out with an axe,” Williams said with a laugh.

So far, Williams and Gordon have performed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (originally staged under the auspices of Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre) in 10 B.C. cities. They’ve also played the roles of fiancés last year in Pacific Theatre’s Jessie-winning production of The Foreigner.

Teaming up on and off stage can be an intense experience. Gordon notes: “We spend 24 hours together when we’re doing a show together.”

The positives far outweigh any negatives, the couple say. As husband and wife, Williams and Gordon share an unusual level of trust in performance.

“It’s really great to go out there and know, even if you do mess up, the other person is going to forgive you at the end of the show,” Gordon said with a smile.

For Williams, returning to her alma mater marks a full circle in more ways than one. It was watching a performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a 12-year-old that first inspired her to become an actor.

“Now I get to do the play that made me want to become an actor at the school I graduated from where I met my husband. And it’s with my husband,” she said.

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