Review: Strong cast, music make ACT's ‘Narnia' a delight
TIM REID I TAKE 5 CORRESPONDENT • PUBLISHED MARCH 20, 2009 12:15 AM
Asheville Community Theatre presents C.S. Lewis' fantasy world for children in the enchanting musical “Narnia,” based on Lewis' “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
A large cast and a big sound make this one of the more ambitious undertakings on the ACT stage. They troupe pulls it off with energy and enthusiasm thanks to deft directing by Cindy Baldwin and lavish costumes by Deborah Austin and Susan Dillard.
Bradshaw Call gives a commanding performance as the lion king Aslan, whose blood-curdling roar is tempered by his sacrificing spirit. Christina Johnson is mesmerizing as the White Witch, who torments the people of Narnia in a perpetual winter with no Christmas.
The story centers on four siblings who flee to a relative's huge home during World War II. While exploring a wardrobe, they step into the strange world of Narnia, where ancient prophecy says that four human children will rescue the land from the White Witch.
Edmund (Lincoln Belford) is duped by the witch into her scheme to negate the prophecy by capturing his brother Peter (Dylan Murray) and sisters Susan (Meredith Matsakis) and Lucy (Danielle Germann). Narnia's residents rejoice to see the “children of Adam” as the hoped-for relief from their suffering under the White Witch. Ryan Jevne and Katie Jevne nearly steal the show as Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who dance and prance in delight over the prospect of an end to the White Witch.
With the children's presence, the snow begins to melt, and Father Christmas (Frank Avery) appears bearing special gifts for the human children. But the White Witch is not done yet and manages to tempt Edmund into betrayal and turns half-man/half-goat Mr. Tummus (Robert Shupe) into stone. Only Aslan can end the enslavement by the White Witch in a plot twist that seems Christ-like and reminiscent of the author's deep religious faith.
Musicians Linda Walker, Gary Mitchell, Jim Anthony, Sabrina Kumar and Kit Powell produce the sound that helps makes the land of Narnia so mysterious and yet so appealing. “Narnia” still charms more than five decades after its creation. This adaptation with book by Jules Tasca and music by Thomas Tierney is sure to please children of all ages.
Tim Reid reviews theater for the Asheville Citizen-Times.
27 March 2009