The youth at Butterfield Stage in Gainesville will soon begin their 2017-2018 theater season.

Auditions for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday and the youth’s first production of the season opens on Dec. 8.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” was written by C.S. Lewis. The story begins in an old house in rural England where four children find an old magical wardrobe. Stepping into the wardrobe, the children find themselves in Narnia. Narnia is waiting on the return of King Aslan, its true ruler.

“When Aslan was there, it was always summer,” a news release by Butterfield Stage said. “There is a great battle to see whether this magical country will remain under a wintry spell or will, once again, know freedom and summer under good King Aslan. This is a charming play about courage and the love of freedom.”

Butterfield Youth Director Shannon Rivoire will direct the production and her team will assist in Saturday’s auditions.

“To my knowledge, we have never performed this show at Butterfield,” she said. “I have not seen a stage production of this show so it will truly be new to all of us.”

Rivoire said she chose this production, because of the size of the cast, ease of set production and costumes, and she believes that children will enjoy the show.

“I look for a show that has a large ensemble so that I can cast as many as possible,” she said. “Ensemble parts are a great way for the very young or novice actors to get started in theater. We are a small community theater and so we are somewhat restricted in the type of show we can do, but we have pulled off some amazing productions in the past that left people wondering how we did it. Of course one of the most important things I look for in a show is the fun factor. I want our audience and our cast to really enjoy the show, so I research past productions of the show at other theaters and read a lot of reviews.”

In the past, Butterfield Stage has had children from all over Cooke County as well as Denton, Sanger, Sherman and Whitesboro audition for its shows.

“Some youth theaters tend to do short productions — around 60 minutes — with average casts of about 20,” Rivoire said. “We typically chose full-length productions that are at least 90 minutes with an average size cast of 35. I want as many children as possible to be a part of the theater experience so it is important to me to cast as many as possible. Our past production of ‘The Hobbit’ had a cast of 37.”

Rivoire is looking to cast approximately 30 to 40 for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

“Butterfield is a family-friendly theater that brings incredible, high-quality productions to the surrounding community,” she said. “Our theater is located in the historic Andrew Carnegie library and is a beautiful and unique space. We feel so privileged to be able to have this space to create wonderful memories for our theatergoers.”

The only advice Rivoire has for auditioning children is to have fun and give it their best shot.

“The goal of my youth theater class is to instill confidence, build self-esteem and help your child discover their creative side,” she said.