The opening-weekend Sunday-matinee performance of Joseph Robinette’s 1989 dramatization of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe enchanted patrons of all ages as the Raleigh Little Theatre brought C.S. Lewis’ magical 1950 fantasy novel vividly to life. The incredibly talented cast not only led the audience on an exciting adventure through the land of Narnia, but also shared some of Narnia’s magic directly with patrons following the performance via signed playbills and photographs — an experience that, for many of the younger patrons, was just as special as the play itself.
The delightful set work, the clever costumes, and the energy and professionalism of the cast, both onstage and offstage make RLT‘s production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe thoroughly enjoyable. It will be a wonderfully memorable theatrical experience to RLT patrons.
This past Sunday afternoon, as audience members slowly packed RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, they were greeted by the namesake wardrobe situated at center stage, which whisked away as the curtain rose to reveal a wintry and artfully geometric set. The thoughtful and creative set design, complete with a light flurry of snow, provided an ideal backdrop for the play’s adventures.
In a comfortable runtime of only 75 minutes, RLT‘s production team masterfully shared the story of four young siblings who travelled through a magical wardrobe to find themselves in the fantastic world of Narnia. Lucy (Aura Pugeda), Edmund (Miles Wiedmann), Susan (Taylor Gantt), and Peter (Jacob Sen) encounter many memorable characters as they explore their new world, including Tumnus (Gus Allen), the timid fawn; Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Matthew Hurley and Freyja Helmer-Sindemark, respectively); and Aslan (Justin Scranton), a magical and magnificent lion.
With the help of their new mythical friends the children learn about courage and love as they battle against the White Witch (Heather J. Strickland) and her henchman Fenris Ulf (Devon Ingham) to save Narnia, and face no shortage of comedy or action along the way.
Every single cast member, many of whom are still in grade school, delivered an engaging and believable performance that captivated the audience from start to finish. Jokes were delivered seamlessly and consistently hit their mark.
Action-packed battle scenes were cleverly choreographed and precisely executed, thrilling the audience with what appeared to be real hand-to-hand combat. The use of lighting and sound effects throughout the production enhanced every moment, and the beautiful and elaborate costuming truly tied the production together.
Aslan’s massive mane shone with magic and perfectly embodied a lion spirit. Fenris Ulf’s armor and fur cape at once portrayed an air of dangerous authority and magic, and the White Witch’s snow-colored gown was enchanting and elegant yet enhanced her icy aura. The children’s costumes became increasingly regal, with many changes incorporated seamlessly throughout the show, mirroring their transition throughout the play.
Director Patrick Torres and the entire cast and production team at RLT brought their collective talents together to create and share a fantastical experience and draw their audience into the world of Narnia, and seeing this world through the eyes of younger patrons only increased the sense of magic and fantasy. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe offers a fun and incredibly memorable theatrical experience for young families and older patrons alike. It is well-worth seeing.
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 13th Raleigh, NC Chatham Life & Style preview by Dustin K. Britt: https://chathamlifeandstyle.com/reviews-%26-features.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26, 1 and 5 p.m. Oct. 27 and 28, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2, and 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 3 and 4 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $18 ($12 children 12 and under).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/.
RLT‘S 2018-19 SEASON: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows-and-events/memberships/.
PRESENTER: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/RaleighLittleTheatre, https://twitter.com/RLT1936, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Little_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/raleighlittletheatre.
NOTE 3: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28th, performance.
NOTE 4: The 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3rd, show will be a Sensory-Friendly Performance. On its website, RLT writes, “Sensory-friendly performances are designed especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other disabilities. Sensory-friendly seating is general admission allowing individuals extra space if needed. Click here for more details and pre-visit materials. To provide a supportive and welcoming environment for children and families, sensory-friendly performances include: Reduction of loud or jarring sounds; Reductions in flashing or strobe lights; Modification of the house lights during the performance; Accommodated house rules: audience members are free to talk or move during the show; Extra staff and volunteer support; [and] Designated ‘Take a Break Space.'”
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950 fantasy novel): http://www.cslewis.com/us/books/?collection=narnia (C.S. Lewis’ official website) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion,_the_Witch_and_the_Wardrobe (Wikipedia).
The Novel: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
C.S. Lewis (Irish novelist and theologian, 1898-1963): http://www.cslewis.com/us/ (official website), https://www.britannica.com/biography/C-S-Lewis (Encyclopædia Britannica), http://www.cslewis.org/ (C.S. Lewis Foundation: Living the Legacy of C.S. Lewis), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis (Wikipedia).
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1989 play): https://www.dramaticpublishing.com/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe (Dramatic Publishing).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Joseph Robinette (playwright and screenwriter): https://www.dramaticpublishing.com/authors/profile/view/url/joseph-robinette (Dramatic Publishing bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/joseph-robinette-493226 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5725980/ (Internet Movie Database).
Patrick Torres (director and RLT artistic director): http://raleighlittletheatre.org/people/patrick-torres/ (RLT bio) and https://www.facebook.com/patrick.torres.585 (Facebook page).
Sarah McQuillan is a government affairs professional based out of Raleigh, NC, and an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A lover of the performing and visual arts since childhood, she began writing theater reviews for the Daily Tar Heel in college and continues to keep this love alive writing for Triangle Arts and Entertainment. Sarah spends her free time experiencing new restaurants, playing the piano, learning new languages, and taking leisurely strolls with her elderly dog.