What lies through the wardrobe? A lion, a witch, and a show, of course. West Springfield High School brought the realm of Narnia to the stage with prancing animals and evil armies in their production of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
The beloved story, originally written by C.S. Lewis and adapted by Joseph Robinette, tells the tale of four young orphans who find themselves magically transported to the kingdom of Narnia, a land ruled over by an evil sorceress who has wrongfully claimed the throne. Only with the help of Aslan (Austin Barbera) and his woodland friends will they be able overthrow the wicked queen and take their rightful place.
Several actors provided strong performances that stood out from the large ensemble. Doug Dunphy and Grayson Van Beuren, playing Peter and Edmund, both provided dynamic performances as characters that were forced to change by their experiences in Narnia, all while speaking in a believable British accent. Lucy (Megan Dumond) had an endearing innocence and sweetness that made her shine in the cast of often oppressed and downtrodden characters. Ruthie Rado, as the White Witch, commanded the stage with her villainous presence and sent shivers down spines with her booming voice.
Cast members had to portray a variety of creatures and rose to the challenge. Tumnus was portrayed with excellent physicality by J.D. Fortney, expressing his character’s torn emotions through his fawn-like movements. John Barbato played Mr. Beaver with a human charm that belied the tail he was wearing. There were times when scenes were too chaotic or too broad in scope to be fully taken in, and some actors did have issues with fully developing their parts, but overall the cast provided convincing portrayals of their wild roles.
Technical aspects of the show were, for the most part, done effectively. Kelsey Rose composed an original score that helped guide the story along its way and built dramatic tension, adding positively to the show. The depiction of the wild animals was achieved largely through excellent costuming and make-up work that transformed humans into a plethora of species, although some critters proved more difficult to adapt than others. Sets depicted the grand setting of Narnia, fully communicating the adventurous location the orphans found themselves in. Ultimately, the crew worked together to help create a technically solid production.
In the end, West Springfield’s show was an interesting display of technicality and performance that resulted in a fine play. The company put on an entertaining performance that allowed the audience to escape through the wardrobe, if only for a few hours.
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