What a magical evening! From the picnics on the lawn under the warm evening sun, to the final appearance of Aslan as he paraded around the circus tent, Warminster School’s production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe  was a triumph. Certainly it was a brave decision to bring the production ‘in house’ and perform in a circus big-top tent – after all, the British summer is not renowned for reliability. However, the only issue the weather caused was the need for air conditioning in the tent!

As for the production itself, the four children: Lucy (Thea Knight), Susan (Freya Smye), Edmund (Ben Pearson) and Peter (Alex Maclaren), were uniformly excellent; Freya and Ben, in particular, belying their youth and turning in strong, mature performances. The White Witch (Lexie Drake) metamorphosed into a really frightening creature who, I am sure, will be cropping up in the nightmares of some of the younger pupils! She was ably supported by her two vicious sidekicks, Lily Aldridge as Dwarf and Harrison Kilminster as Maugrim, both of whom brought an air of menace into the tent. To be honest, it is really impossible to highlight some names and not others as the entire cast contributed to this wonderful show. In fact, a number of roles were double-cast with Lucy played at some performances by Milly Morgan and the Witch by Alice Robinson, to name a few.  Alice Robinson enthralled the audience with her magnificent performance of the White Witch, Milly Morgan delighted a captive audience and Will Harris terrified us as Maugrim.

However, one person deserves an extra-special mention – Aslan, himself. For anyone who had not seen the giant lion patrolling the grounds in recent months, his appearance in the second half must have caused their jaws to drop. With three operators plus the voice of Sixth Former, Lewis Tomlinson and Year 11 pupil Rory Lomas, both royally commanding performances, he cut an immense figure as he entered the tent. You can imagine the White Witch’s fear as he rose from the dead to lead the charge against her army. Aslan was excellently operated by Ben Cook, Tommy Park and Freddie Mowbray and Harry Langhorn on the Friday evening, ably supported by Miss Vickers.

Emily Harris, Head of Drama commented “As a new Head of Drama, I wanted to create a real experience for the pupils. Turning this inherently wintry allegory into summer 'event theatre', with the hire of a big-top and playing in the round, has been quite a learning experience for us all. We had to think about constant movement and pace – a real challenge for a four and half metre-long puppet! I am delighted with the result and I hope the audiences have thoroughly enjoyed the show.”

All-in-all, this was an astounding production and particular congratulations must go to the Drama Department, Mrs Harris, Mr Bignell and Miss Vickers for directing and coordinating what was a very complex and entertaining production.

Thursday performance review by Jeremy Robertson

David Wiltshire photographs can be found on our Flickr site