C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s tale THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is one of the most ambitious stories to put on stage, with elaborate costumes and sets, special effects lighting and a full-blown battle scene. Dramatized by Joseph Robinette, and directed by first-time director Zack Langrehr and Crissy Montgomery, the Wilmington Drama League’s adaptation comes in at a mere hour and a half, allowing a small amount of time for a large amount of story. The bare-bones adaptation seems geared toward kids — it is based on a children’s story, after all — and as such is simply told and not difficult to follow.
The large cast is primarily made up of young actors, led by Talia Speak as Lucy, Benjamin Annone as Edmund, Mollie Montgomery as Susan and AJ Weber as Peter. The quartet are perfectly cast as the adventurous siblings. The adult members of the cast include Vicki Ventura and Anthony DelNegro, who are wonderful as Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, Michael Terringer as the lion Aslan, and Kathy Buterbaugh, whose White Witch is the highlight of the show.
The costumes and makeup, designed by Robin Robinson and Kara Casey, range from 1940s period clothing to the crowd-pleasing centaur costume worn by Aiden McDermott, to the Witch’s opulent garb. The costumes and makeup are a big part of the fun in this production, as are the clever touches in the sets designed by Christina Bartley, Lee Nichols, Pete Worth and Elizabeth D’Wolf.
At times, the story seems rushed, with the four young protagonists going from curious visitors to the fantasy world of Narnia to the world’s most important figures at a breakneck speed. Kids who have a hard time sitting through a two hour-plus play will appreciate it, but I felt like it could have used another 30 minutes or so to flesh out the story and cool the pace. Still, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, about a land where it’s always winter but never Christmas, makes for a fun family holiday show, with enough action and humor to keep youngsters engaged. There’s even a visit from a traditionally-dressed Father Christmas (Zack Langrehr/Eric Merlino).
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Book by C.S. Lewis
Dramatized by Joseph Robinette
Directed by Zack Langrehr and Chrissy Montgomery
December 14 – 29, 2012
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Boulevard
Wilmington, DE 19802