Adelaide Youth Theatre’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tori Handley, is a vibrant, fun and delightfully mad show that showcases some of Adelaide’s finest young performers. The Diamonds Cast (one of two casts performing the play during its season) has done a wonderful job in portraying the fantastic characters of one of history’s favourite stories.
Lewis Carroll’s classic story has been adapted and performed countless times over the decades, yet remains as fresh and exciting as ever. Ingenious tweaks to the plot, characters and lyrics make this version of Alice in Wonderland different enough to stand out from the crowd. For example, when was the last time you saw three Cheshire Cats (Bella Baggio, Eliza Waterhouse and Mimi Stanbury)? This version retains some original Disney songs, such as ‘Painting the Roses Red’, but also includes songs created specifically for this ‘Junior’ version, such as the delightful ‘Simon Says’ that replaces the old-fashioned croquet match.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into this production. It must have been quite a feat to organise, block and choreograph the larger scenes. Though the stage was often packed and chaotic, the action was almost seamless and easy to follow. I applaud the crew for managing to control the cast, some of whom where quite young and obviously very excited to be on stage.
The costumes and characters were highlights for me. I was astounded by the clever switching of actors, props and costumes used to recreate the magical events of Wonderland that could only otherwise be shown through animation or special effects. Multiple Alices, a little Alice (Isabella Darwent), a medium Alice (Tanisha Kirk-Demetri) and a taller Alice (Holly Fennel), appear at different times to suggest a magical changing of size. I had to laugh when Tall Alice appeared on stage wearing a cardboard house.
While each performer was great in their own right, the crowd favourite was the hip ‘Catapilla’ (Nathan Stafford). While the Caterpillar that Alice meets in the original story is a rather mean, hookah smoking character, the Catapilla is a cool, sassy fellow who’s every line caused laughter to erupt from the audience. Kirk-Demetri as the main Alice was also wonderful. Her sweet, fluttering voice is undeniably Disneyesque, making her perfect for the role. Tweedle Dum (Elisabeth Anderson) and Tweedle Dee (Amelia Sanzo) are also standouts because of their hilarious, bumbling slapstick comedy. The ensemble supported these characters well. The chorus was powerful, energetic and never missed a beat. It was a shame, though, that in some parts of the performance sound balance issues caused many lines to be drowned out. Nevertheless, the Diamonds Cast is a fantastic group of performers. I can only expect the same of the Hearts Cast.
Time flies when you’re having fun, so it seemed to me that this performance ended way too soon. Adelaide Youth Theatre’s Alice in Wonderland is a clever, colourful and lively show that will take you down the rabbit hole and into a fantastic world.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Venue: Star Theatre, 145 Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton
Season: 26-28 July
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $15 – $70
Bookings: Book through BASS
Photo Credit: Steve Lindqvist