When two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve sit enthroned at Cair Paravel the prophecy of Narnia is fulfilled. Reisterstown Theatre Project’s sets about to fulfill this prophecy with their production of Narnia the Musical. Directed by, Kathy McCrory, this show takes the classic C. S. Lewis story The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, arguably Lewis’ most famous in the chronicles, and turns it into a musical translation of the very first adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie in the kingdom of Narnia. It’s a community theatre production that’s great for the youngsters. With a mixed cast of adults, youths, and children on stage there’s a little something for everyone.
Set Designer Sharon Weaver really creates scenes straight out of the books. The iconic wardrobe occupies a far corner of the stage set amid the Professor’s mansion. There are large evergreen trees flecked with snow on the stage once they children travel through the wardrobe and the big gray castle in the far back makes up the White Witch’s castle. All the locations from the book are present, even the stone table. But the most stunning piece of scenery comes from the mind of Prop Master Carol Sorenson who creates a large white sleigh for the White Witch decorated with silvery tinsel and glittery accents. This sleigh captures the frosty demeanor of the White Witch too perfectly as she rides through Narnia aboard it, pulled by two reindeer.
And the costumes are equally impressive – the most impressive perhaps being The White Queen’s. Costume Designers Gretchen and Shelby Hylton start by layering her in a huge puffy white gown completely with silver tinsel accents and a white furry muff for her hands. But as Aslan returns to Narnia and spring breaks through her curse of eternal winter the witch is stripped down to just a plain gray dress. Even her elaborate crown just becomes a simple three-point gold dollop atop her head. The various woodland creatures are outfitted to varying degrees of cuteness but none so cute as the little unicorn (Megan Benkler) whose dress is a mini white wedding dress with a white string wig and a swivel horn atop her head. Another costume triumph comes from the White Stags (Shelby Hylton, Ava Ertel, and Lily Ertel.) They have large beautiful antlers that are dusted with glitter and shimmery white tutus as they dance around the stage to help them look elusive.
The kids try their best to make the show work. With a live orchestra and singing support from the adults some of the tunes are actually quite catchy. The singing stars of the show are found in Tumnus (Lauren DeSha) who enjoys a wonderful solo during “Narnia, You Can Imagine.” DeSha’s voice is so haunting and sweet as she fondly reminisces of the times when Narnia had Christmas and spring that you feel her soul mourning for the lost times and are entranced by the simple melodious tune. The show stealer, however, comes from the angry and terribly evil White Witch (Kat McKerrow). Her frightful persona oozes from her body in the way she walks, talks, and certainly in the way she sings. When her first number “Turkish Delight” takes to the stage she belts and bellows the song, a duet along with the Dwarf (June Frank,) that will send shivers up your spine. It has a gypsy feel to it but something truly evil seeps out through McKerrow’s expressive face during this number. She has a second duet, this time with Aslan (Raphael Shaw) where they sing “Deep Magic” and her pompous personality bubbles over onto the stage possessing it like a living evil that cannot be contained.
Aslan (Raphael Shaw) makes a stunning first impression when he leaps onto the scene with a roar. But it would have been slightly more impressive had they really made him look like a lion. Donned in white Jesus style robes with golden accents the only thing Shaw wears to show that he’s a lion is a makeshift mane, which is so well hidden by his natural hair that you don’t even see it until the Dwarf is ordered to cut it off in act II. But looking like a lion or not, Shaw has the powerful voice of this king of Narnia character, belting out powerful numbers like “Cair Paravel” and “Catch Me If You Can.” He shares the stage with McKerrow in many scenes and their interactions really bring life to the show.
It’s a great outing for the kids, bring them along to enjoy Narnia: The Musical at the Reisterstown Theatre Project.
Running Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, with one intermission.
Narnia – the Musical plays through March 17, 2012, at Reisterstown Theatre Project at Franklin Middle School – 10 Cockeyes Mill Road, in Reisterstown, MD. For tickets call the box office at (443) 246-6401.
Read “Narnia” Comes to Life by Staci Wolfson in Resisterstown Patch.