This is the third time Joanne Parker has directed the City Rep cast in C.S. Lewis' classic tale of good and evil. The performance itself is becoming a classic.
If you are looking for a way to introduce children to theater, looking for a play that will entertain the adults in the group as well as the elementary-age - you can't go wrong with City Rep and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."The acting is quite professional, including the performances turned in by the four local youngsters: Maryl Lyn Dover as Lucy, Jensen Rapp as the doubting Edmund, Rosi Hayes as the wide-eyed Susan and Brad Skinner as a suave Peter.
Dover is a young-looking eighth- grader who has all the poise of a much older person. From the opening minutes of the play, she conveys a spirit of adventure that sets the tone for the entire performance.
The cast is large, which adds to the pace and excitement. Fairies, dwarfs, leopards, deer, a unicorn - all the forest creatures frolic and fight across the stage. Their costumes, by Raelynn Potts, and the set, designed by Owen Richardson Jr., are great.
Children will not only love the animals and sprites, they'll love the transformations back and forth between the English manor house and the enchanted land of Narnia. It is summer at the house where the four children are staying, but in Narnia all is winter since the White Witch cast her spell.
The miracle takes only seconds. Maids and fairies whisk away the toy cupboards and unfurl a huge white sheet of silk. Dry ice bubbles. Suddenly, the wood-trimmed drawing room, with its tree-patterned wallpaper, is a winter forest. Adults and children alike love watching the magical transformation.
Cheryl Ann Cluff makes the White Witch icy, cruel and mysterious. (On opening night, several mothers in the audience had to remind their children she wasn't really a witch.) Cliff Cole plays Aslan, the brave and good lion. Cole may look like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, but his bearing and delivery soon show children he is a character to be respected.
Themes of Christianity run throughout. Parents can talk with children after the performance about betrayal, resurrection and forgiveness.
Families will find this play rich in meaning and in entertainment. At $6.50 for adults and $4.75 for children, tickets to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" are a good value.