Syracuse Stage ushered in the holiday season with its production of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” beginning Nov. 25. The set, costumes, and enchanting story are enough to recreate childhood nostalgia for audiences of all ages.
With elaborate costumes and sparkling snowfall, the Stage’s Narnia is as vivid as C.S. Lewis imagined it. The magical wardrobe opens its doors in England, giving way to a chilly, wooded landscape with silently falling snow and a lonely lamppost. There, the audience first glimpses Tumnus, the fawn, with his curly legs, hooves and horns.
As the story unfolds, naiads and dryads flit about the stage trailing airy, colorful outfits and glitter. The White Witch’s henchmen lurk about, extravagantly adorned in impish gore and her sleigh glides effortlessly across the stage. The production includes multiple sword fights, whimsical choreography, and a giant on stilts with enlarged hands and feet. Each detail lends itself to the magical setting worthy of a child’s imagination.
Lucy is played by Jenaha McLearn, who accurately portrays the sweet, easygoing spirit that unlocked the magical land. Marie Eife is good natured and prudent as Susan Pevencie, Peter (Amos Vanderpoel) is noble, and Charlo Kirk convincingly plays the bratty little brother Edmund.
The production progresses at a rapid pace, a necessity given the length of the story, but the dialogue is rushed at points.
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are jauntier than in either film adaptation, providing comic relief during the struggle between good and evil. They, along with the children, perform a playful song, “Swiggle Down the Lot” while dancing around the Beavers’ dam.
Other notable musical numbers include Edmund’s trio with the White Witch and Grumpskin, “Turkish Delight.” The chromatic melody illustrates the spell of the witch’s food as it overcomes Edmund. Mr. Tumnus’s (Maclain W. Dassatti) “Always Winter Now,” is enchanting, as is his dancing with Lucy.
Aslan (Jordan Barbour), whose booming voice is suited for the role of a lion, commands the stage whenever present, including the musical number, “The Lion Leaps."
The rousing finale involves all cast members in an a cappella iteration of the chorus from “Come to the Table,” where the musical ensemble is at its best.
Above: Ben Holtzman (Grumpskin), Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (as the White Witch), Stephen Cross (as Maugrim), Charlo Kirk (as Edmund).
Photo courtesy of Syracuse Stage