Cambrian: Arts & Events

Phil Crowley will bring C.S. Lewis to life in Cambria

Philip Crowley portrays C.S. Lewis in an upcoming production at the Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre.
Philip Crowley portrays C.S. Lewis in an upcoming production at the Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre.

Playwright David Payne has allowed just one other person, besides himself, to portray British author C.S. Lewis in his play about Lewis’ life, “An Evening With C.S. Lewis.”

That person is Phil Crowley.

Crowley, who will don Lewis’ mantle for performances July 1, 2 and 3 at Cambria Center for the Arts, is a veteran voice actor who’s known for his voice acting and serves as announcer on the weekly entrepreneurial TV show “Shark Tank” on ABC.

But Crowley’s association with Lewis isn’t a passing fancy. He read the Christian author’s philosophical/theological works “The Screwtape Letters” and “Mere Christianity” in his college years and later traveled to many of the places Lewis had lectured. He also played Lewis in the world premiere of a new play by David Payne called “Of Wardrobes and Rings,” a fictional account of a final encounter between Lewis and his friend, “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien.

Crowley has performed “An Evening With C.S. Lewis” before audiences including the Actors Co-op in Hollywood, the C.S. Lewis Foundation in Redlands and Christ Church in Jerusalem. The play finds Lewis seated in an armchair with a cup of tea in his living room as he shares stories about his childhood in Northern Ireland, his time in boarding school, a brush with death during World War I, his career at Oxford and friendship with Tolkien.

The occasion for Lewis sharing his stories is a visit by a group of American writers who have come to hear him speak about his life. Lewis’ wife was herself American, and during the play, he shares personal moments from their relationship and talks about the effect she had on his life.

Lewis was known for such fictional works as “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Space Trilogy,” along with philosophical and apologetic works on Christianity.

Playwright Payne originally recruited Crowley to play the role of Lewis as part of a second cast. He’s playing the role in Cambria with Payne’s blessing.

Crowley’s other stage roles include parts in “You Can’t Take it With You,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Man of La Mancha” (in which he played Don Quixote) and “The Miracle Worker.”

‘An Evening With C.S. Lewis’

Cambria performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 3.

Tickets are available for $20 each from brownpapertickets.com, cambriacenterforthearts.org or by calling 800-836-3006 or 805-927-8190. They also may be purchased at the Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre box office, 1350 Main St.

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