Before being approached to star as Professor Kirk in the musical version of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, actor Dennis Olsen (pictured above) had never heard of the Narnia Chronicles. Truly.

Actually I’m of a vintage where The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe totally passed me by, Olsen said. Because it was published in the 50s and by the time the 50s came I was onto other things, I suppose -¦

Since then I’ve found out a lot about it, and of course realised just how popular the book is within school libraries and studied in schools and studied by Christian revivalist groups -¦ he said. All that analogy is there, if you want to look for it -¦ But it’s such a rattling good romantic yarn for kids, and adults too.

For Olsen it’s also the chance to star in another great Australian musical, after appearing in the original cast of Terence Clarke and the late Nick Enright’s The Venetian Twins 10 years ago. The book for The Lion, The Witch -¦ may be British, but has been adapted as a musical by David Parker, with songs by Ian McDonald and lyrics by Philip Judd. Nadia Tass directs (she also directed the films Malcolm and Amy), making it a very Oz affair.

The production is also a chance to perform yet again with old friend Amanda Muggleton (who plays the Witch). The duo recently staged a Noel Coward tribute show in Melbourne, singing songs and acting scenes from his plays. The pair previously starred together in Coward’s We Were Dancing and Private Lives, and Olsen recently starred in Design For Living in Melbourne, a play with a notoriously queer subtext.

In the meantime the pair are camping it up for kids and dedicated adults, in a tale of four children who enter a closet in their creepy bachelor uncle’s country estate and discover a mystical world threatened by a seven-foot-tall witch. And you thought Christian camp ended with Pat Boone, Godspell and Saint Sebastian.

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is playing at the Lyric Theatre, Star City Casino, from 19 December. Tickets range from $35 to $69 and may be booked on 9266 4800.

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