THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Chelmsford Young Generation at the Cramphorn Theatre
Irita Kutchmy's musical version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was a good choice for CYGAMSChristmas show. It involves loads of youngsters, and is a popular, perennial story. It's been sold out for weeks.
Purists will not like the Disneyfied travesty of much of the plot and many of the characters, but these young actors, directed as ever by Ray Jeffery, went to enormous lengths to capture the period feel and the poetry. Generally, though, performers of all ages could usefully have projected a little more strongly.
On the opening night we saw the left-hand cast - of these, I greatly enjoyed Amelia Burns as Susan, and Keeley Allen as a warm, outgoing Lucy, looking and sounding just right as a feisty evacuee. Mr Tumnus the faun was neatly personified by Mitchell Raymond, who delivered his lines with feeling and moved with poise and grace. The White Witch was not well served by the script, but Helen Morris gave a strong panto performance, a worthy match for Paul Synott's majestic Aslan.
The production crowded the Cramphorn stage, but the wartime prologue was effective, and I liked the lamp-post and the snow like fondant icing over the rocks and trees. And despite the clunky lyrics and the forgettable tunes, the audience, like the visitors to Narnia, happily forgot all about the real world for a magical couple of hours.