inTown: Aslan Shines at the Imagination Stage
The familiar children’s tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been completely re-imagined in a ground-breaking collaboration between the Imagination Stage and the Washington Ballet. Almost all of the characters are dually represented by an actor and a dancer; the former handles the speaking and singing, the latter expresses emotion through movement. The performance runs through August 12 and is receiving rave reviews from local publications.
Washingtonian‘s Sophie Gilbert notes, “One of Septime Webre’s [artistic director of the Washington Ballet] favorite childhood books was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. ‘The story is iconic, and very much about the battle between good and evil, with great lessons inherent in it,’ Webre says. ‘The sense of drama and danger is present, but there are all these fanciful characters that suggest movement, from the faun and the White Witch to the four children.’ ”
Julia Exline, in DC Metro Theatre Arts, gushes, “Directed by Janet Stanford and music composed by Matthew Pierce….the set, designed by Eric Van Wyk, is painted a deep blue, with a stately wardrobe, grandfather clock, suit of armor, and other props that hint at the inside of an old, erudite manor. The transformation into Narnia leads way to painted snow valleys, textured white curtains, and an icicle-covered streetlamp. ‘Snow’ flutters from the ceiling, and paired with soft blue tones from lighting designer Colin K. Bills, the effect is magical. Another alteration gives us springtime in Narnia, and, with a blink of an eye (quite literally – I looked away for a second and the stage was transformed – I don’t know how they did it) colorful flowers pop up all over the stage, petals fall from the sky instead of snow, and warm, buttery yellow and orange hues bring in the sun.”
Jessica Goldstein, in the Washington Post, is equally as superlative, waxing poetic about centerpiece Aslan, ”Aslan leaps. He leaps like no lion could ever leap. Aslan is impossible. He’s a puppet, this Aslan, though puppet designer Eric Van Wyk would ‘consider it a compliment if someone said it doesn’t look like a puppet.’ So forget what you think about when you think about puppets, be they sock or foam or Muppet. This is Aslan, the righteous ruler of Narnia. He’s supposed to be majestic. Puppet Aslan is all frame and flaming mane. His structure is exposed, his body made of mesh fabric beneath an external skeleton. The effect is something like a leaf, or a stained-glass window. He is massive, 9 feet long and 8 feet tall, but looks light and agile and, well, the right word is probably ‘feline.’”
Thinking about going? Check out these behind-the-scenes videos from Imagination Stage to get a better idea of what to expect!
Behind the Scenes (Part 1):
Behind the Scenes (Part 2):