Former opera singer, now priest, creates Narnia adventure for Kent community

Church, theater and music can work together to make a difference in people's lives.

The Rev. Joyce Parry Moore works with Phillip Soran during a rehearsal for the production of “The Lion

Church, theater and music can work together to make a difference in people’s lives.

The Rev. Joyce Parry Moore understands the relationship and brings its power to her congregation.

A performer beyond the pulpit, the rector and priest at St. James Episcopal Church also sings, acts and directs. Lately, she has spurred church members to put on a show – the multi-generational production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, based on C. S. Lewis’ fantasy novel for children.

Performances are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the church on Kent’s East Hill, 24447 94th Ave. S. Proceeds support the church’s outreach work, which includes helping low-income residents in times of need. A justice fair, featuring the church’s social services partner organizations, will be available at intermission.

The Narnia adventure comes at an appropriate time and place. As Parry Moore points out, the church has a historical connection to the arts, and the community has a need for social justice. Elliott was a British novelist, poet and academic, medievalist and literary critic, but also one of the foremost Anglican theologians, Parry Moore explains, and English literature has long embraced the Anglican church and theology,

“(The play) is a nice way for children and adults to connect with the Anglican culture,” Parry Moore said. “When C.S. Lewis wrote this book, it was in a way about these children who are making sense of the turmoil in their lives during World War II, and they are doing it through an imaginary place,.

“Children today live in a very uncertain time. They live in a time when there is warfare around the world. They live in a time when they see a lot of anger and division on media and adults acting very, very poorly,” Parry Moore said. “It’s a time when, as a church, we have the opportunity through theater to tell a story about a place in a way where creatures of many kinds actually came together on what they believed was right.”

The cast is about 15 deep, a mix of young and old, beginners and experienced thespians, supported by an eight-member, all-volunteer crew.

“The play is simply written, but some of the technical parts of the play are challenging,” said Brandon Fisher, stage manager for the 90-minute production. “It’s been really fun to put it on.”

For Parry Moore, the play brings together family. Her husband, Patrick, whom she met doing community theater in Alaska, plays the lion Aslan, the rightful King of Narnia and other magical countries. He also serves as a one-on-one acting coach. Daughter Ariana, a student at Kentridge High School, has joined the cast and works on costumes.

The play has tapped into Parry Moore’s experience, skill and faith.

A classically trained lyric soprano, she brings acting, dancing and writing skills to her ministry. Parry Moore received a graduate degree in opera performance from the Boston Conservatory of Music after a college major in theater and voice. She acted, sang and directed productions in Boston, New York, Alaska and California before coming to Washington.

While she enjoys the stage, her true calling has always been with the church.

A breast cancer survivor and author, Parry Moore earned a master’s degree in divinity in 2009 and was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 2011.

Kent is her latest destination, a place to work, a chance to inspire a community and even deliver a message from stage by connecting church to the arts.

“I feel the sanctuary, the church setting is an appropriate place for the play,” she said.

Admission is $10. Tickets, available at the door, also can be ordered online.


The cast includes: (back row) Val Brustad, Michael Soran, Ari Moore, Patrick Moore, Gideon Jennings, Karen Gusse; (middle row) Annalise Jennings; (front sitting row) Sean Bean, Matthew Bean, Morgan Shannon, Jean Helmer and Dallas Shannon.
MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

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