Date 4th December 2019
Society Ponteland Repertory Society
Venue The Memorial Hall, Ponteland
Type of Production Musical
Director Jonny Woollett
Musical Director Amy Baker
Choreographer Hayley Grant


Author: Michael Lee Avery

This musical version of Alice opens with a Theatre Manager (director Jonny Woollet, who also has a couple of cameos later) welcoming us, telling the sad history of the theatre in which the audience, and Alice herself, sits.  From her seat, Alice follows the White Rabbit into something of a dystopian nightmare.  She finds herself in Wonderland where she endures frustrating and intriguing encounters with such characters as The Mad Hatter and the March Hare (as in “mad as a …”).  Every character she encounters has a bizarrely contrary point of view to her.  Ultimately, she plays a tense game of croquet with a volatile Queen of Hearts.  Somehow, by now, she has drawn the familiar characters to her, to stand with her against the Queen who is minded to remove Alice’s head.  It doesn’t really sound too child friendly, yet it is.
The music and lyrics by James Leisy (who wrote the book) and Carl Eberhard are pleasant but not (to me) particularly memorable.  The cast of around twenty-two, adults and children, perform the songs and musical numbers well and act the annoying dialogue amusingly straight.  The costumes are appropriate throughout with one or two principal outfits being particularly effective, my favourite belonging to the Mad Hatter.

Poor Alice, played engagingly by Jasmine Lever, is understandably perplexed.  In her blue and white costume she demonstrates a pleasant singing voice with clear diction.  Other characters are also well realised.  The White Rabbit (Jason Long) is suitably bemused.  The Mad Hatter (Jules Stevenson Warrender) is a vision in purple and gold, with a twinkle in her eye.  I enjoyed her performance.  The Caterpillar (Lee Emmerson) tends to steal every scene he appears in, aided by the laid back dialogue he’s called upon to perform.  His costume seems just a little cumbersome.  The Duchess (Sarah Chadwick) is always beautifully turned out and drifts through proceedings on a cloud.  The Mock Turtle (Philip Browell) manoeuvres a massive shell manfully.  The Cheshire Cat is a puppet which/who pops up amusingly from behind the set but puppeteer, Lizzie Browell, appears, in person, to take a deserved bow.  The Queen of Hearts (Amythyst Pringle-Lewis), autocratic and a little frightening, in her playing card themed costume, seems bigger than she probably is.  Everyone, including those not mentioned by name, play and sing their parts just right.

I must confess to being somewhat bemused initially, having never read the original Lewis Carroll source material.  I remember only engaging Walt Disney cartoon characters and  I only vaguely remember how perverse and annoying they all were!  Once acclimatised, I let my defences down and happily allowed the madness to roll over me.