The Many Faces of the White Witch – Part II

Holly Smale as the White Witch in a production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

In 1984 The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe received its first official stage treatment, and it’s been staged regularly ever since. In fact, it’s become a staple of children’s theater. It’s easy to see why. The story is simple, the characters memorable, the action clear-cut. Though it seems it would be difficult to do with the fantastic settings and animal characters, theater magic can easily do its thing with scrims, lighting, sound effects, and clever costumes.

The witch character above is very effective. All she wears is a shaggy white fur coat and a black and silver crown made of some bendable material like plastic or feathers. She has pale skin and red lips, and a regal, mean look. She’s Jadis in a way an illustration can’t be.

Kate Tydman as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at The Rose Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet.

This witch has the same kind of crown — tall and feathery — but looks more futuristic with the formed helmet and mirrored chestpiece. This kind of crown is cool because it moves in sympathy with the witch’s actions, adding to her magnetism on stage.

The London Theatre Company by special arrangement with Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber present the much-celebrated Leeds Playhouse production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Edmund is in the foreground here played by a young man of color, and the witch in the back. But again she has the same crown and in addition a flowing fur cape/coat which I bet she flicked around imperiously on the stage. A cape can also become a tool for conveying character.

Yanna McIntosh as White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Photography by David Hou.

Here the witch herself is black. But she’s still the same character by her expansive gestures and cackling laugh.

Another witch in action. Depending on the staging and the director’s conception, the witch may be statuesque and regal, or full of action as she struts, wrestles with Aslan, and goes into battle.

Not all depictions are successful. Here Aslan looks like Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre while the  witch has become a crone.

Holly Nordquist as the White Witch in Grand Canyon University’s production of LW&W.

Here Lewis’s own text is used to form the trees and forest! Not a fan of the witch’s costume though … it’s too fussy and baroque.

The white witch at the Stone table. Aslan’s body is tastefully concealed by her gang of werewolves, hags, and other frights. But her costume is ill-fitting and not appropriate for a bloody sacrifice.

A White Witch with the glamor of Elizabeth Taylor poses with a fan…or Lucy, perhaps? The wonderful thing about the witch, for an actress, is that she can be played at any age and any body type.

A White Witch wearing a pants ensemble, not a gown, with a crown that looks Asian.

“Who, me?”

A very effective theater poster that cuts to the heart of the story. If you’ll notice, both enemies have fangs!

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