Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd / Editor: Jillian Ball

Alice in Wonderland: Great Talent

Elizabeth Hurd  Published: May17th, 2011

Fantastic fantasies are the bridge adults use to recapture the dreams of childhood lost. Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” is the book that showed us that our adult interpretations of childhood dreams and impressions are quite universal. The adaptation by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus translate Carroll’s wonderful book into a fine stage production. Director Shawna Linck has the daunting task of bringing the play to life for Poteet Theatre audiences.

The play is a difficult project to mount with a large cast of unique characters. Of course the first order of business is to find the perfect youngster to bring Alice to life. Anna Hall is exactly the right young lady for this part. A fifth grade student, Hall brings a great deal to the interpretation of Alice and only a bit more experience is needed to fine tune some of her recitation skills in important pieces such as ‘Jabberwocky’. With the first week under her belt, the slightly rushed versions will settle into delightful cadences.

The second important task Linck accomplishes is to create a set and assemble a cast that illuminates the fantasy for Alice and the audience. Linck does this expertly with direction and design. Linck’s set design is well done and is beautifully complemented by the exquisite costuming from Jackie Smola. The actors fill the costumes and the space with skill and subtle nuance creating illusions capable of luring the audience into the dream. Outstanding Performances by Stephen Dillard-Carroll as the Caterpillar, Tyler Barton and Court Kilhoffer as the Frog and Fish Footmen and Allyson Caldwell as the Cheshire Cat play opposite Hall’s Alice beautifully. Kyle Anderson as the March Hare and Alex Prather as the Mad Hatter alongside the young and extremely talented Nolia Sweatt as the Dormouse create a delightful scene for the famous tea party. Later on David Mays as the Gryphon further delights the audience with his versatility in interplay with the Mock Turtle done by Jack Nortz.

Many of the essential and distinct characters are double cast and this may affect some performances with the downside of less rehearsal for the actors. Unfortunately that seems to be the case with the Red and White Chess Queens, Truda Hibbs and Kay Lehman. These actresses seemed to be a little unsure of lines and character. The Chess Queens are also played by Briana Strahorn and Kristin Stang. Michael Howlett as the White Rabbit comes across quite nicely (also played by Ben White), as do the Duchess (Dana Palmer, Dawn Deckman-Moeller and Julie Prock) and the Queen of Hearts, (Dawn Deckman-Moeller, Julie Prock, Dana Palmer). Additionally three actresses alternate the parts of the Sheep, the Cook and Tweedledum & Tweedledee. The performances are exceptional but the degree of double and triple casting in this show combined with character make up make it a little difficult to properly acknowledge the actors doing the roles.

Other notable performances are given by Jim Gabe as Humpty Dumpty, David Palmer as The White Knight and Joe Moore as The King of Hearts. These roles require one of-a kind actors! All the cards in the show are played by – cards! (At heart anyway). In the animal department, the birds are excellent and the mouse ( Greyson Giese) is very well done. The horse is not double cast but requires two actors, Brenna Noble and Rachel Conn, and the two dance beautifully together. The crab is also not a double casting, but an animal requiring two bodies, Emily Payne & Meg Linck. These two not only keep the crab together but are great as the Dream Alice’s in the beginning of the show.

“Alice in Wonderland” can be seen at Poteet Theatre at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 222 NW 15th Street through May 22, 2011. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm. For ticket information call 405.609.1023 or visit www.poteet theatre.com

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