by Tenethia South
You will have spoilers for the musical and book if you proceed from here. You have been warned.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is possibly the most popular of the Chronicles of Narnia. It has been translated into forty-seven different languages, has been adapted into a film four different times, has been done as an audio recording four times, has been made into a video game, and even has been sung in a single song! Did you realize that there are also several stage adaptions of this book? Narnia: the Musical, written by Jules Tasca, Ted Drachman, and Thomas Tierney, is one of these adaptions for stage, and it absolutely glows with enchanting music and characters.
The musical displays several amazing songs, that manage to smoothly slip in and out of the rest of the script. They are not simply time fillers like some musicals have, but they are turning points in the musical. The story would be incoherent without them. The three most memorable songs were “Turkish Delight,” “From the Inside Out,” and “Deep Magic.” “Turkish Delight,” a trio done by Ginnabrick, Jadis, and Edmund, is the first song, a catchy tune. “From the Inside Out” seemed to be meant as the discussion Edmund and Aslan had after Edmund was rescued from Jadis. While the song has a little bit of mixed-up theology, it is a magical piece that captures how Edmund began to change from his old self into who Aslan meant for him to be. “Deep Magic”, performed later in the musical, is a duet between Jadis and Aslan when she comes to the Narnian camp after Edmund’s rescue. The rather ominous-sounding song well describes how Edmund’s blood belongs to Jadis, with the most memorable line from it being “I have the right to take the blood of a traitor!” Some of the other songs included “A Little Bit of Spring,” “Murder Today,” and “Hot and Bothered.”
While Edmnd and Lucy grew on me, they were definitely not the characters I knew from the books. Their personalities were very different from the book, and even more strange than Peter’s character problems in Walden Prince Caspian film. Lucy’s character is cold and even appeared heartless at times. She said several times to Edmund that she hated him, and when the witch came to claim Edmund from Aslan’s camp, even proclaimed to him, “You have no one but yourself to blame for this.” Furthermore, instead of realizing what a sacrifice Aslan’s death was, and loving Aslan for dying for her brother, she hated Edmund. She even went far enough to where she blamed Aslan’s death on Edmund. She remained in this state, not progressing much, and declared in one of the last scenes that she didn’t hate him anymore – “much.”
Edmund’s character was even more strange. When he was back in Aslan’s camp, he insisted to his siblings that his going to the witch was a big misunderstanding, and that he had not betrayed them at all. His talk with Aslan followed immediately after, and Aslan encouraged Edmund to stop being the way he had been, and let himself be changed. It was a sweet scene, but the Edmund that looked like he had so well progressed went straight back to his siblings and lied. Aslan never countered that lie or said anything, and Edmund’s character went to the end of the play, seeming to me to be just as he was when the curtains first opened.
Despite the problems with Lucy and Edmund, Jadis, and the Beavers were all well-written characters. Jadis was just as wicked and book-verse as she could be. She was definitely a different style of Jadis than one might imagine, as all her songs were written in a jazz style. This, however, was something that grew on me as the play went on, and seemed to fit Jadis rather well. The Beavers were perhaps the most memorable creatures. They were, at first, quite grumpy and didn’t get along with one another well. They were constantly griping with one another. As the play went on though, the two of them grew closer to each other, and about half-way through, during “A Little Bit of Spring,” they were finally happy with one another.
The script-writers definitely took liberties with the book, in several areas other than character progression. For instance, we never get to see England in this play: it begins with Edmund and Lucy stumbling through the wardrobe together. Before they have a chance to go back to their world, Peter and Susan also stumble through. Also, Edmund did receive a gift from Father Christmas (so much for having to be good all year!). Third, It was not Edmund’s idea to take the Turkish Delight, but the Witch suggested it, enchanted it, and offered it to him. Thus, it could be said that betraying his siblings really wasn’t his idea. Another change was that Edmund was present at Aslan’s death. The most bothersome change, however, was the fact that Susan only blew her horn at the battle, before Aslan resurrected. This would not have been so problematic, except that Aslan marched onto the stage as soon as it was blown, thus giving the appearance that Susan had resurrected Aslan from the dead.
If you have Narnia: the Musical being performed in your town at some point and you are wondering whether you should attend or not, here are my thoughts. Overall, the play was a fun experience with beautifully written music and several memorable characters. There were definitely problems with it, and if you are a Narnia purist you will most likely not enjoy attending at all. But if you are accustomed to changes in films and plays, and go to enjoy the play as it is, you will likely find yourself singing along the tunes a week later. For me, it was definitely an enjoyable experience and I will attend again if such an opportunity arises.