WHEN NEMusicals York decided The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe would be their autumn show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Steve Tearle was "overjoyed and super-excited" to be picked to direct next week's production.

"It was the book that I fell in love with as a child. We all have one!" he says. "The amazing story of a land behind the wardrobe fascinated me; I would dream about Aslan the lion and the animals. I would sit for hours and would knock constantly on the back of my wardrobe and wish that there was another world at the back of it.

"Sadly for me, but much to my mother and father's pleasure, I realised that this was not the case, but from the first time I read this amazing story until now, it still holds such adventure and excitement."

NEMusicals York – it now stands for "New Exciting Musicals York!", jokes Steve – faced a considerable challenge in mounting C S Lewis's story on stage. "The show is very rarely performed, due to the complexity of staging it, and it's never considered as a musical, so we had very little to go on...oh, apart from the amazing imagination of C S Lewis.

"So that's what we used for our inspiration, which we know you will love," says the director. "We've designed the costumes ourselves and the staging to bring Lewis's world to life."

Choosing the right four lead children was so important too, he adds. "We've worked with Sam Roberts, who's 14, in a few shows prior to this. He was Oliver in Oliver! and we knew he would be perfect for Peter as the leader of the famous four," says Steve.

York Press:

"Choosing the right four lead children was so important," says director Steve Tearle, in praise of Jack Hambleton, front, Margaux Barker, left, Sam Roberts and Grace Brown

"Grace Brown, also 14, has been with us for a couple of seasons but really shined in Dr Dolittle in the ensemble. She has the right personally for Susan and brings the voice of reason to the band of brothers and sisters.

"I'd seen Jack Hambleton, who's just turned 11, in a Pick Me Up Theatre production and was really impressed with his performance but could he bring the attitude of Edmund, the brother that betrays his family, all for some Turkish delight? Yes he could!

"Margaux Barker, also 11, had been in a couple of shows with us and really made an impression in our production of Meet Me In St Louis. For the part of Lucy, who really discovers Narnia, with her over-the-top personality, Margaux was the right choice.

"We're super proud of them all as these four children really hold the whole show together in a grown-up production, which we cannot wait to bring to York for something completely different."

The November 15 to 18 production features a jazz-based score with haunting melodies by Irita Kutchmy. "She's a wonderful lady who, when she knew we were performing the show, contacted us to wish us great success," says Steve.

Tickets for the 7.30pm evening shows and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk