I went to see Birmingham Christmas show The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at The Rep - here's my verdict

Here's our review of the stage adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s masterpiece which is currently taking place at Birmingham Rep
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The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is one of the most acclaimed fantasy novels written by a British author.

C. S. Lewis’s masterpiece takes us through Narnia, the land of talking animals and mythical creatures that is ruled by the evil White Witch. The 1950s children's novel has been transformed to the stage many times over the years, and now it's come to Birmingham.

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The stage adaptation of this beloved story opened at The Rep on November 14 and runs until Sunday January 28, direct from London’s West End. I went down to the theatre on Saturday (November 25) to watch the magical story come alive on the stage. The production had already been running for over a week, but the Rep was still packed with families eager to watch the festive wartime fantasy.

The Pevensie siblingsThe Pevensie siblings
The Pevensie siblings

The show opens with a lovely rendition of Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again, before we see the Pevensie siblings’ evacuation from London to Inverness during the blitz. The children are played by the brilliant Jerome Scott (Edmund), Liyah Summers (Susan) Daniel Apea (Peter) and Kudzai Mangombe. David Birrell, who also plays Father Christmas and the Wise Owl, provides a brilliantly comedic turn as the witty Professor before Lucy the rest of the siblings discover Narnia through the wardrobe. Kudzai also shines as Lucy, with Jez Urwin's loveable Mr Tumnus also a highlight.

Ruby Ablett and Samuel Morgan-Grahame are hilariously good together as Mrs and Mr Beaver, and there are stunning performances from Oliver Hoare as Aslan and Cath Whitefield who produces a commanding performance as the evil White Witch with her glaring looks and powerful voice.

I spoke to Cath last month before the show opened at the Rep. She told me what really appealed about the iconic villain was that she’s "smart, quick, dangerous," and Cath portrays these characteristics chillingly well during the two-and-a-half hour show.

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The production is wonderful, with director Michael Fentiman having created a riveting spectacle that is appreciated by children and parents. Dramatic music helps to add to the tension during the scenes involving the White Witch and her Secret Police, lead by Maugrim, who is brilliantly played by Shane Antony-Whitely. Maugrim is a mix of robot and growling wolf who scuttles around the stage.

Purposeful drumming, as well as creeping violins and cellos combine to create a sinister atmosphere during these scenes.

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe at the RepThe Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe at the Rep
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe at the Rep

There's plenty of upbeat singing and dancing during the course of the show, including a joyful routine from Birrell's Father Christmas, and it all mixes well together despite the storyline's darker themes.

Aslan being represented as a giant lion puppet and man also works well and the scene where he sacrifices himself for Edmund drew many gasps from the audience.

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The show is a spell-binding take on Lewis's dark tale. The staging, music and costume design make the story come to life alongside some wonderful performances, and it is a great option if you're looking to enjoy some festive fun alongside talented performances with all the family. With the production running into January, there's still plenty of time to catch a show, which I highly recommend.

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