IndyFringe: Narnia

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

To be fair, I must note that since the opening performance of “Narnia” by Agape Theater Company, there were a lot of notes and technical fixes. For this youth company, hosted by Our Lady of the Greenwood Catholic Church, this was not one of their most polished productions – but they have set themselves a high standard over the past few years.

But it was a daunting project, even for its original creators, to adapt “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis – an epic fairy-tale fantasy layered thick with Christian symbolism – into a workable musical, which then the local players, a talented cast of about two-dozen aged tween to college, had to hammer down into a single hour.

This heroic effort, directed by Aidan Morris and Grant Scott-Miller, is led by Ethan Wood, Rebekah Barajas, Flannery Partain and Alyssa McDonald as the Pevensie children, Silvia Seidle as the White Witch, and Caleb Wilson as the lion Aslan (and briefly as Father Christmas). McDonald steadily manages the heavy, conflicted role of Edmund. Laura Sickmeier gives a “best supporting”-worthy turn as Tumnus. Alex Bast (who is also music director) and Julie Seidle deftly handle scene-stealing roles as Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.

Since scenes and props, aside from a well-constructed sleigh, had to be rudimentary for a shared stage, the artistic emphasis is on excellent costuming, from regal Aslan to Indy’s cutest Squirrel.

The songs (by Thomas Thierney and Ted Drachman from the book by Jules Tasca) are servicable, but reach their height at “Deep Magic,” which lets Wilson and Silvia Seidle shine in a hero-villian standoff.

Will Aslan defeat the Witch? Will the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve ascend the Four Thrones? See it all play out on the Basile Auditorium in the Athenaeum.

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