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Reply to "Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe!"

OK, I have seen it myself now, and I call my review

Did anyone pray for giant shoes?

Okely dokely!

Let�s get this whole lyric thing out of the way first. Honest and for true, I tried very hard to be completely unbiased when I saw it and I can�t see what all the fuss is about. I went with someone who is not into Judd/Enz at all, so nothing invested there. He couldn�t understand the negative comments either. The lyrics are simple without being condescending and are understandable for kids. This is not the place for profound, sophisticated, Sondheimlich manouvres. Trite? No. The worst thing I could say is that on (only) two or three occasions the rhymes were a little obvious or predictable. But, again, children are the target audience so big woop. The lyrics were appropriate, yes, clever, and in some cases really quite lovely. They also fit the style of the book/script. Different to Lewis� style, sure, but not jarringly so, and not different to the script which is the main thing.

Clich�d? Uhm, the whole show is about the battle between good and evil and the power of faith in the face of adversity. And redemption, in Edmund�s case. Those are the biggest frickin� clich�s in the history of the world. And the lyrics tell that story. They have to. They tell a �clich�d� story, but not in a clich�d way. (Interesting � the battle between good and evil in Lord of the Rings get to be �archetypal� and LWW gets to be �clich�d�. Hmmm.)

The songs, I found, didn�t hold up the action. At worst, I did find that they sometimes repeated information that had come before or came after in the script. For this reason (and others) the script needed a visit from the Blue Pencil Fairy anyway. Some overall structural things could be tweaked. Aspects of Nadia Tass� direction could have been tighter (there was a bit of pointless wandering) and things like the acrobat girlie dangling above the stage after the big battle, doing nothing much, while nothing happened on stage were far more guilty of slowing the flow of the show than any song.

The sound design was terrible. The sound designer�s background is in rock concerts and lawdy, it showed. LOUD, CONSTANTLY LOUD! A little light and shade needed in the sound design, IMHO.

The �children� in the cast were great. When allowed to sing, they were fantastic. (The Lucy/Susan duet at Aslan�s death was really pretty.) When directed to climb stairs, run and jump around the stage and sing at the same time, singing turned to shouting.

Puppets just wonderful, and the puppeteers have now warmed into their roles. Any technical problems that were there opening night have been ironed out. Aslan�s back end is looking just fine, and no-one looked �disabled�. A lot of blank/dark spots in the set design that sometimes make the stage look a little bare, but it soon becomes obvious that�s a design decision so that puppeteers can blend in and not be seen. Works really well, and a worthwhile trade off.

The only thing I really, really couldn�t stand was Amanda Muggleton as the White Witch. I wanted to kill her with a brick. Or, better yet, one of her big giant shoes. What had she come as? A cross between Maria Callas and Norma Desmond doing an atrocious, booming accent that was some m�lange of Russian/Greek/Transylvanian/Texan. OK, nuance out the wazoo may be lost on children but this was one-dimensional even for kids. How she ever reinvented herself from some old slapper who�d get her gear off at the drop of a hat to a respected dramatic actress, I�ll never know.

Very pleasing was the crowd. Lots of kids and very respectable numbers for a midweek audience in a house that size. Little attention spans didn�t just hold out but were completely into it, and there was much whoopin� and a-hollerin� at the curtain call.

Critics? Pah! They gave Les Miserables a pounding when it opened and it�s still running 17 years later. Begone, you have no power here!
    All times London, UK.

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