ALICE@WONDERLAND – THE MUSICAL
Stage Door Youth Theatre
Director: Janet Philbrook
Musical Director: Matthew Leedam
Choreography: Janet Philbrook
Staying almost faithful to Lewis Carol’s original story this version of Alice in Wonderland has music added and, bringing the story slap bang up to date, Alice is texting and Googling - she is a digital girl. Wonderland, with all those character we know and love, easily fits into Alice’s modern life style.
Lewis Carroll’s topsy-turvy Wonderland world was brought to life in Mike McKeow’s superb set design. The lighting (Matt Horne and Leroy Philbrook), and sound plots (Marcus Whittaker) gave focus to the drama. There were enjoyable visual slides to aid particular scenes by Marcus Whittaker. The stage was set and the cast had to be costumed to complete the scenic picture. Anne Allan designed, and made, all 39 costumes. They helped each character in the creation of the role each was playing. All this was complemented by the hair and make-up.
The director’s concept was pleasingly clear. The original story and the music were treated equally allowing the two to become one in the overall presentation. The company, aged between 10 to 17 years old showed excellent stage skills. They all had stage presence, with eyes and teeth radiating their enjoyment. The diction was clear, and there was thought and understanding in delivery of lines. Body mic’s wereused but I’m sure the actors would have come across without them. Everyone on stage was so disciplined and focused. I’m sure they could have handled any potential situation.
The musical images are plentiful and the signature tune each time “Wonderland” is mentioned was enjoyed. All the music of this contemporary score was gleefully presented by the singers and orchestra. Musical timing was evident in the choreography which was sharply discharged.
The winning formula for this production was team work from ensemble, strange doors, Kitty Kat gang, flowers, King and Queen of Hearts and the Queen’s guards. The White Rabbit (Harley Smith), Caterpillar (Dillon Hey), Frog Newsie (Jessica Bowes) and Fish Newsie (Emily Hook) were in the supporting roles and each contributed to the storytelling.
There are so many iconic characters in the story. To create the magic of the Cheshire Cat appearing and the reappearing, there were two Cheshire cats. Playing one was Miamh Renshaw, and making her debut, Ruby Whittaker playfully played the other, both mischievous felines.
Tea time can only conjure up images of the Mad Hatter and his tea-party friends. Ellie Phipps captured the Hatter; Rebecca Hook was the eccentric, March Hare, and Gabriella Tetlow, as Dormouse, slept her way through the proceedings. They made the bizarre look normal.
Alice’s journey continued and her next encounter was with the twin brothers, Tweedledum (William Peacock), and Tweedledee (Lucja Korol). After some entertaining exchanges Alice met Humpty, the one who sits on a wall. Theo Bailey as Mr Humpty gave all the nonsense a reality.
The one person who has to make sense of everything she sees and hears in this fantasy world of Wonderland is Alice. Coral Pickles playing the social networking, Alice and who was in tune with the author’s intentions by presenting a well thought out characterisation.
There was so much that was rewarding about this production but to single out just one element, it has to be the enthusiasm shown. It is commendable the work this group is achieving in developing theatre techniques in the young.