It was not your usual Narnia — which came as no surprise to anyone who has revelled in the fantasy and fun of the annual Camp Jabberwocky play.
In this year’s production, inspired by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Narnia was not so much the lamppost-lit enchanted domain of the elusive White Witch. It was a Vineyard-inspired porthole between the wardrobe of the camp’s costume room and the wardrobe of a different take on a ruling female power – Lady Gaga, played to perfection by camper Mary Beth Rush.
The idea for the storyline was originally dreamed up by one of the many imaginative counselors at the camp, and grew into a team effort put forth by the entire Jabberwocky crew. Camp codirector Johanna Romero de Slavy, affectionately deemed “JoJo” among her campers and friends, said that much of her pride in the production comes from the fact that the storyline itself is a result of a campwide undertaking.
“Every year,” said Ms. Romero de Slavy, “the camp takes a story and makes it a Jabberwocky story.”
Of course, the more conventional characters from C.S. Lewis’ tale made appearances in the Jabberwocky production as well. Mr. Tumnus, the faun, played by David Gordon, took the stage with a Jabberwocky addition: Mrs. Tumnus. Together they made a “faun lovin’ pair” in the realm of the evil Queen Gaga.
The lion Aslan, hero of the expedition within the wardrobe, had multiple appearances performed by Sam Wood, Jon Herzod, and Myles Iselin.
For a land where it is “always winter and never Christmas,” Camp Jabberwocky’s Narnia was alight with enthusiasm, energy, and even musical numbers, mainly to the works of Elton John.
When asked why the camp chose Elton John, Ms. Romero de Slavy responded, “Why not?
“It’s flamboyant, it’s fun – it’s us!” she added.
And the musical numbers certainly were made their own by impressive vocal performances among campers and skilled instrumentals performed by Jabberwocky counselors and Chad Urmston, singer and guitarist in the Massachusetts-born alternative rock band State Radio. Mr. Urmston made time for a stop at Camp Jabberwocky before he goes on a solo tour at the end of the summer.
At the play’s conclusion, the Jabberwocky team (with the help of Aslan and the ever-inspiring power of rock and roll) overthrew the Vineyard’s White Witch and reclaimed Narnia as Jabberwocky territory. Not an adult or child in the audience remained seated when Camp Jabberwocky came out on top and closed the play with two final musical numbers, the timeless sing-alongs, Tiny Dancer and Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl.
Not to be missed, of course, was camp founder Helen Lamb, now 97, kicking off the Saturday show with her legendary recitation of the poem which gave the camp its name. She spread her arms, her eyes wide, “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!” And so the frabjous nonsense began, and so it ended, when (Callooh! Callay!) a camper did her fine take on Mrs. Lamb and recited the poem to close this evening of pure joy.
As the summer moves forward, Camp Jabberwocky prepares for its August session and its annual 5K run scheduled for August 20. Registration for the 5K is still open on the Camp’s Web site.