Samantha Womack is still coming to terms with spectacle she finds herself surrounded by on stage at every performance of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

This impressive re-telling of the story by C S Lewis about four wartime refugees who discover a magical land hidden at the back of a wardrobe will be enthralling family audiences over the Christmas period at The Lowry.

Sam plays the White Witch, enemy of Aslan the lion in this classic battle of good against evil.

“The whole show is a huge spectacle,” said Sam who has previously visited Salford Quays in starring roles as diverse as Morticia Adams in the Addams Family and Rachel Watson in The Girl on The Train.

“You feel as though you are just a small cog in this big wheel and it’s the show itself which pushes you on.”

Whereas the aforementioned Girl on the Train role was mentally challenging, Sam has found the White Witch to be more of a challenge physically.


The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (PIcture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (PIcture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)


“That’s been really interesting for me,” she said. “There’s lots of flying - I’m strapped into a harness - and I make a lot of my entrances on this Mad Max-like contraption. It’s almost like doing a circus turn.”

Initially the idea was to style the White Witch so she looked like a star from the Golden Age of Hollywood. But the finished version is far different.

“Because she’s having to inhabit the same world as Aslan, the director Michael Fentiman, wanted her to be more tribal and more of a warrior,” said Sam.

“So now she’s ended up more Game of Thrones, shrouded in furs with dead carcasses everywhere. It’s not quite as elegant as it was but it’s perfect for the production.”

Sam’s ‘warrior queen’ look isn’t without its challenges.

“The first fur coat I come out in is the weight of a Fiat 500,” she laughed. “It’s impossible to move in.”

Actors will always tell you they prefer to play the evil characters and Sam’s relishing her role as the White Witch.

“She’s kind of weird and manipulative; she’s not an out and out baddie,” said Sam. “She’s a seducer and senses the damage in people and she changes her approach depending on their weaknesses.

“With Edmund - one of the refugee children - she is quite sweet and almost mother-like at first to gain his trust and then in the second act she becomes quite terrifying. That’s really interesting to be able to do that with a character.”

Although The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is this season’s big festive production everyone involved has been very conscious of it not becoming anything like a pantomime.

“Initially that was my fear; that it would become too Christmassy,” said Sam. “When we started to style the White WItch I was quick to spot if there was a little too much glitter and sparkle about her but Michael the director has such a good understanding of CS Lewis that we are telling the story with all its subtleties.


Chris Jared as Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

Chris Jared as Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)


“During rehearsals he would constantly refer us back to the books and talked about CS Lewis and that rescues us from not being like a panto in any way.”

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is one of those classic children’s tales which has been read by generations. It was a favourite of Sam’s as a child and she has subsequently read it to her own children.

“The writing is so profound,” she said. “When you read it as a child you see it as an adventure tale, but when you get older and read it to your children you start to see the theology and the debate about loss and isolation. I also took from it this feeling of displacement.”

It’s powerful stuff and a story which Sam believes has a particular relevance to us now.

“In a way it’s about feeling lost in a world which has become brutal, ugly and scary and questions how do you hold on to your beliefs when something terrifying has happened.

“As we came out of lockdown that was like I was feeling, wondering ‘what the hell just happened?’”


Samantha Womack as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

Samantha Womack as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)


The relationship between good - Aslan - and evil - Sam’s White Witch is at the heart of the production and the show pulls no punches.

“There is violence, at times it’s very tribal and terrifying,” said Sam. “But there is violence and death in the world every day which children see. And the show is also very uplifting. The great thing for me is that I don’t have to hold back on being scary as that is balanced by the beauty in the production showing the need for good and compassion.”

Aslan is the beacon for that compassion with three puppeteers operating the giant lion produced by the same designers responsible for War Horse.

“It’s quite a profound experience working with Aslan,” said Sam. “Chris plays his human spirit and then you have this regal beast on stage. It’s so powerful.

“What has surprised me is how moved people are by the whole production, it makes a real connection with the audience.”

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Lowry Salford Quays until January 15. Details from