The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: A Review

In Play Reviews on February 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Cast Brings Magic of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia to BJU

Many classic memorabilia of childhood fantasy rings true with all audiences and C.S. Lewis’ beloved story, The Chronicles of Narnia. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is one such classic which is remembered through the images of a lamppost, a wardrobe, talking animals, and child heroes led by a mighty lion.

The production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at Performance Hall from February 11-16th, directed by Callie Summer, brings that classic magic to its audience. The show highlights the journey of the four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy (played by Matt Jones, Kaitlyn Chisholm, Patrick Beam and Elisa Chodan respectively), and their adventure through a wardrobe into a fantasy world that is in a heap of snow and of trouble with the evil Queen Jadis, aka The White Witch (Jill Iles). The Pevensies meet many delightful characters along the way and eventually they bow before the Great Lion Aslan (Caid Ferguson). Ultimately, the Witch is defeated and peace is restored to Narnia. The Pevensies return back to “Spare Oom” and are forever changed by their great adventure.

Patrick Beam as 'Edmund'
                    Patrick beam as ‘Edmond’

This quick summary partly characterizes the nature of the production. While the show is mostly classic and very entertaining, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with each scene as the characters rapidly moved from place to place in the story. The pacing is heavily based off of the adaption, which certainly had its weaknesses, but it does maintain high energy and excitement as we travel through Narnia.

The production smashingly delivers some favorite moments from the classic tale such as Lucy’s tea with Tumnus (Justin Snyder) and his beautiful flute song, the Witch’s seducing Edmund under her spell with Turkish Delight, and dinner at the Beavers’ dam.

Probably the most dramatic scene of the show is Aslan’s death at the Stone Table. With Broadway-esque flare, the Witch’s minions crawl out of the darkness. And by their colorful dancing, screeching, and howling (all in black lighting) they create a frightening yet fantastical space where we hate the evil but love the spectacle. Bravo to designers for how that moment is executed (no pun intended).

IMG_8379 (1)

Many of the characters give notable performances such as Tumnus, who has a lovely Scot-Irish accent and likeable persona, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Colton Beach and Lindsay Morgan) who humor the audience with his Englishman quirks and her flurrying about, and the White Witch who rules with her menace and beauty. Audience goers should expect more of an ensemble performance with the four Pevensie’s instead of individual ones. While each Pevensie has strong character moments, because of the rapid pacing, we mostly see them all together. Edmund has a bit more stage time with the White Witch and he delivers a solid performance of the annoying younger brother. Lucy also warms hearts with her sweet spirit and tender scenes with Tumnus and Aslan.

The set, like the play, is easily moved and fluid. Pieces are turned around, carried in and swept away by Wood Nymphs that dance and sway in between scenes (look for when they also double as stone statues!). The production is highly stylized especially through the costumes of the animal characters. Instead of full-blown reality, we are given glimpses of creatures represented by human actors.

Jill Iles as 'The White Witch'
                    Jill Iles as ‘The White Witch’

A special highlight for the production is the original music, composed by Caleb B. French and Ben Schaaf. It is a capturing element that soars throughout the show. The album is available for purchase online.

Purists might be disappointed by some textual changes from the book such as the Pevensies are crowned at the Beruna battlefield instead of at Cair Paravel and Father Christmas comes to the Beavers’ dam instead of meeting them on their journey.

Overall, the magic comes alive through the production and the audience can expect to see a Narnia they know with a few new interpretations and a quicker trip than usual.

DSC_0252By Meagan Ingersoll


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