SALEM — Salem Community Theatre’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is understandably geared toward youths. It has a large cast of children and teens, and there were also plenty of children in the audience during Friday’s opening night performance.
The play, which kicks off SCT’s season, is adapted from the popular children’s tale by C.S. Lewis.
Salem’s presentation, directed by Vicki Rossi, has the feel of a school play with great costumes.
It’s light fare but enjoyable, and is certainly kid-friendly in its length. The first act is one hour and the second act is 30 minutes.
The dialogue was a little exaggerated in the first act but smoothed out in the second during Friday’s show. The energy and pace also picked up as the play unwound.
The now-classic tale is about four children, the Pevensie siblings, who enter the magical world of Narnia through a wardrobe in a house they are visiting. Once inside, they become ensnared in a fantastic world run by a witch. They are entrusted with the task of freeing Narnia from her clutches.
The story, which was made into a major movie in 2005, has obvious biblical parallels.
Salem’s production is true to Lewis’ story and has triumphant moments that make the audience want to cheer with the characters.
The four young actors playing the Pevensie chilldren were quite good.
Seasoned actress Lisandra Stebner, who is in seventh grade at Willow Creek school in Boardman, plays the older sister, Susan.
Leetonia sophomore Jason Shar is the older brother, Peter; and Max Hardman, a 7th-grader from Salem, plays the younger brother, Edmund.
Columbiana 6th-grader Ally Moreschi is the spunky little sister, Lucy.
Natalie Ricciutti, a Canfield High sophomore, was appropriately evil and unlikeable as the White Witch.
Tyler Stouffer, a Salem High School sophomore, handled the role of the regal lion, Aslan, with the compassion and inherent goodness this character needs to display.
The sword-fighting scene between the White Witch and Peter was well-choreographed and fast-paced. Another battle scene between Peter and the White Witch’s henchman, though shorter, was equally impressive.
There are more than 35 in the cast, all but two being youths. Most of the youngest ones play woodland creatures and nymphs, including 4-year-old Carter Whipkey. The younger children in the production amused the audience, eliciting cheers and applause.
The two adult roles were played by Anthony Melone (Tumnus), a Youngstown State University student, and Dave Wack (the professor and Father Christmas).
X“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” will be presented at 2 p.m. today and Oct. 18; and at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call (330) 332-9688. Salem Community Theatre is at 490 E. State St., Salem.