Lyrics Arts presents Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as one of their season’s Theater For Young Performers shows. And wow, have they found a cast and crew full of talented youth (ages range from 7 to 17) to join this production! I love the fantasy of this story and how it forces you to look at things in a different way. Explore. Question authority. Think outside the box. Take chances.
Most of us know this story – Alice (played by a lovely, precocious Carlie Campos Ott) follows the White Rabbit into the topsy turvy world of Wonderland. She encounters colorful, crazy characters – each one sillier than the last. It’s been awhile since I watched the movie, but I was reminded that some of the characters feel slightly sinister in nature. Lyric Arts plays around with this darkness by actually putting us in the dark with an amazing use of black light to help bring some of the characters to life.
One standout is Abigail Thomas playing Caterpillar. She blew me away with her pompous, larger than life presence – she’s fantastic! They’ve created Caterpillar by having her sit on someone’s shoulders with a crew carrying umbrellas painted like a caterpillar’s body following along behind her. The cast members carrying the umbrellas are dressed in black, and again, this is with the use of black lights so what you see is a vibrant Abigail with a slinky caterpillar-like body. So clever!
My other favorite is Travis Wickland as Gryphon. Puppeteer Gabriel Gomez created a head for Travis to hold and maneuver, wings for another cast member to control and yet another to make motions for the tail. With the lights off, all you see is the glow of Gryphon’s head, legs, wings and tail, and they coordinate the movements so well that you wouldn’t guess there are so many pieces to this puzzle.
You’ll enjoy the rest of the cast, too. Zachary Glaser as Humpty Dumpty, Carly Grande as the haughty Queen of Hearts, Hannah Stenback as the playful Mad Hatter and more. Logan Schuneman and Judah Neel play Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and they had us giggling from the second they walked on stage. Addie Grieman could not make a more adorable Dormouse (she plays other roles, as well).
And of course, Alice really just wants to catch up to the White Rabbit, played by Sage Ftacek. He embodies the White Rabbit perfectly in effortlessly flying around stage with that jittery anxiety which tends to happen when you’re running late for a very important date, understandably.
Director Cassandra Cutler Proball has pulled off this ambitious show so well! With so many young performers and so much to fit into a show that runs a little over an hour long, I never felt like any of the scenes were rushed or that there was a weak spot in the cast. I have to imagine there was a fair amount of troubleshooting involved, and I’m impressed by the creative solutions she and the rest of her team have come up with. Jane Ryan’s set is very versatile and allows for many different arrangements, although I do have to admit that a couple of the scene changes grew uncomfortably long because of the many pieces that had to be rearranged. Stephanie Mueller’s costumer designs are practical but fun, as they should be when it comes to this show.
This is such a fun adventure, and I love the creativity and the talented youth!!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland runs now through Feb 28 at Lyric Arts, and they’re recommending it for ages 8 and up. Click here to purchase your tickets, and Goldstar may have a few tickets left as well!