With Alice in Wonderland onstage at the Frances Kelsey Theatre, the students had a hit on their hands.
The word was out and Thursday’s opening night drew nearly a full house to see a full-on, lively and colourful presentation of this weird, wild tale by Lewis Carroll.
Alice (Katya Leslie Adams) is bewildered by what happens to her when she steps through a looking glass, and those watching get to go along with her on a series of strange adventures, that were well presented, through a variety of staging tricks.
Instead of following the all-too-tiresome trend of “modernizing” the show by making it all grey, or setting it on a cruise ship, director Anna Roberts and her gang played “Alice” the old fashioned way.
There was a White Rabbit, a Caterpillar smoking a hookah, a Duchess, whose baby turns into a pig, a crowned-and-dangerous Queen of Hearts and much, much more.
That also meant audiences got to see the pool of tears, the huge colourful mushroom, the trial of the Knave of Hearts, and all the well-loved scenes of the tale as everyone knows them.
Beloved by children and adults for more than 100 years, this story was also a huge cult favourite during the psychedelic era of the late 1960s, so the background music included some very appropriate Beatles tunes from that period, like ‘I Am the Walrus’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’.
The costumes really added to the authenticity of this show. They had to be, in a word, fantastic — and they were.
It was easy to see that, right from the first moments, the students onstage were really enjoying themselves.
They weren’t the only ones, as was noticeable by the applause that burst unexpectedly from the crowd at various points during the evening. It was just great fun all around, and deserving of a much longer run in a larger venue.
Alice is bored and looking for some excitement. Little does she know. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice steps through the looking glass into Wonderland. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice meets a Mouse as her pool of tears becomes a sea. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) The Caterpillar, who’s been quietly sitting on a mushroom smoking a hookah, has an argument with Alice. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) The Duchess is nasty to Alice before she heads out to play croquet with the Queen of Hearts. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) After learning how to get there from the Cheshire Cat, Alice drops by for tea with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse but, again, she’s not happy with the way she’s treated. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Gardeners are painting the white roses red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) The procession of cards makes its way across the stage. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice meets the Queen of Hearts, and Alice hears ‘Off with her head’ for the first time. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice talks to the White Rabbit as the Queen is in her usual temper. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) There’s time for a charming dance, too, in which Alice joins the playing cards. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice is back with the Duchess, but now at the croquet ground. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) The Queen orders the Cheshire Cat to be beheaded but then decides that the Duchess, (the cat’s owner), can deal with it. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice goes with Gryphon to hear the Mock Turtle’s story. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Even the Queen of Hearts in full flow can’t daunt Alice. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) At the trial to find out if the Knave of Hearts stole the Queen’s tarts, the White Rabbit reads out the charges. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) Alice stops all the foolishness by crying out: ‘You’re just a pack of playing cards!’ (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)