The 55 minute production takes place in the larger of the two theaters in B Street’s new complex, “The Sofia,” a room which is large, warm, and very comfortable.
In addition to its regular performances, B Street also offers free performances of this play for Sacramento area school children during the week, two performances a day. I arrived between the 10:00 and 11:30 performances and found a fleet of school buses outside the theater and what seemed like thousands of children in the lobby of the building.
The theater seats 386 and was nearly full of children from very small kindergartners to high schoolers, all of whom were surprisingly well behaved.
There is a cast of two, Dana Brooke and John Lamb, who are listed as Lucy and Peter (two of the Pevensie children) but who actually play all the characters, changing costumes, wigs, and voices as the act out the story of the children who go through a wardrobe into the magical world of Narnia, where they have adventures before returning to the wardrobe.
I was happy I had recently read the book because I think it might have been more difficult to follow the plot if I didn’t already know it. Brooke, as the White Witch is particularly difficult to follow due to a reverb use in her microphone which gave her voice a creepy quality that my ears could not understand much of the time.
However, the kids loved it and the intermittent inclusion of the audience to answer questions brought them into the story beautifully. When Peter and Lucy travel to find the lion Aslan’s table (which has great significance in the story), for example, their travels take them all through the audience before finally landing them back on stage.
It is essentially a bare stage, with no complicated scenery, which set designer Samantha Reno has filled with drawings to represent the various scenes, which are projected on the back wall. From the moment the large beautiful English manor house where the children are visiting appears on the screen, one knew that sets weren’t really going to be necessary. In fact, this production fits beautifully with the type of children’s theater that B Street has performed since 1986, which allows a child’s imagination to soar with the assistance of two excellent story tellers.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is fun for all ages, but don’t be afraid to take the very little ones (5 and older) and enjoy the show together.