Disclosure: We were invited to see this show for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.
Last night we invited to the opening performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at New Victoria Theatre, Woking. The show is currently touring the country and we were so excited to see such a classic tale reimagined for the stage at one of our favourite theatres.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on stage
This spectacular stage production brings to life C.S Lewis’ classic book where you get to step through the wardrobe into the enchanted kingdom of Narnia. Following the journey of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and
Peter Pevensie as they’re evacuated from their home during wartime, they end up in Scotland before embarking on the most magical of adventures.
The children step through the wardrobe and explore a frozen, faraway land . They meet so many incredible characters along the way – a faun, talking beavers, Aslan the lion and the evil White Witch to name a few. The story may be a familiar one, but it’s one we hadn’t seen live before and it translates to the stage beautifully.
Our children absolutely love the tales of Narnia and the idea of a magic wardrobe with a whole new world behind it, where you can disappear for years and yet time has practically stood still in your absence. I really hoped they’d enjoy The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on stage as much as the book and movies – and they couldn’t have loved it more.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a really dark, moody and atmospheric show but done so well to keep the whole audience engaged. The set transforms effortlessly from a wartime train station platform to a big old house in Scotland, to a spare room with that iconic wardrobe in the centre and to so many places in Narnia – winter forests and caves.
The settings were always dramatic, full of height and depth, making us feel that we were right there in the heart of the show. The stage was framed with a big arch and for the vast majority of the show that arch was full of characters lifted into the air, huge costumes, lights, effects and props. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a big show that makes the most of all the space they have. It couldn’t have been better.
The music and sound effects worked perfectly at every point of the show too. From the poignant ‘We’ll Meet Again’ accompanied by a piano as the men go off to war at the start of the show to characters bursting into song throughout and the atmospheric beating of drums as the tension picked up as the show neared its climax. We loved how the songs and sounds really helped to set the scene throughout The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The acting couldn’t have been better either. With Samantha Womack as the White Witch and Karise Yansen making her professional theatre debut as Lucy Pevensie, the cast was really diverse with a wide range of experience and ages but you could tell that every actor gave it their all. It was a polished performance that kept us captivated.
There were characters being a train one minute, taking Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter off to the countryside as evacuees and the next they were all swirling through the wardrobe and then flying through the air. The choreography and stunts were fantastic and everything was so well done, it all really brought the show to life.
There were so many fantastic actors playing so many characters – from Johnson Willis playing the wise but eccentric Professor Kirk one minute and a Wise Owl the next, Sam Buttery as the hilarious Mr Beaver who had the children laughing constantly and Oliver Grant as the Red Squirrel and Schrodinger the cat – a small part but one of our favourites. Plus, there was even a visit from Father Christmas!
There was so much puppetry in the show that worked beautifully alongside the acting. Schrodinger moved just like a real cat and the Aslan the lion puppet was incredible. You really forget they’re puppets and just see the character they’re portraying. Plus, the addition of Chris Jared as Aslan, outside of the main Aslan puppet, was really clever. It brought Aslan to life as a lion but also let us see him in a human form, making us really feel for the true King of Narnia.
Is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe suitable for children?
As I said at the start, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a dark and moody story on stage. Our children – aged 8 and 10 – loved it. There were moments of danger and peril where they both had their hands over their mouths, waiting with bated breath to see what happened – and then relief when everything turns out ok in the end.
I think young children may not be able to deal with that feeling of peril as well as older children can. Plus, the show is 2 hours 10 minutes long including the interval which is quite a long show for small children. The interval breaks the show up nicely and the timings meant our children stayed engaged throughout – especially with the help of ice cream in the break!
I love that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has so many underlying messages for children and adults alike. Things like never accepting gifts from strangers and how life is better when you open your mind. Plus, the Pevensie children all end up having qualities everyone can strive to have in life – gentleness, justness and bringing light wherever you go.
There were a couple of school groups at the theatre to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when we went as many children read the classic book at school. I think The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is fantastic for children as long as they can cope with how dark it is plus the tension at points. We would happily take the children to see it again.
We absolutely loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a show of West End quality, perfect for the whole family. It can be worrying to see a new version of a story that you’ve loved for decades in case it doesn’t quite meet your expectations. There’s no worry of that with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – it was perfect.
The Leeds Playhouse Production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is showing at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking from Tuesday 22 March – Saturday 26 March 2022. You can find out more and book tickets over on the New Victoria Theatre website and see all future tour dates and shows on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe site.