Alice in wonderland the Musical

Date 24th November 2012
Society Haslingfield Little Theatre
Venue Haslingfield Village Centre
Type of Production Musical
Director Cheryl Lowery
Musical Director Hilary Stokes
Choreographer Not attributed

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Author: Julie Petrucci

Innovative, enthusiastic, energetic, colourful are just some of the adjectives, which describe this offering from the Haslingfield Little Theatre group. This new adaptation of the familiar story kept the audience enchanted all evening. Ensemble playing is obviously the forte of this company. Seasoned actors mingled with young inexperienced actors could give rise to an obvious divide. Not here. Rachel Chambers (Alice) was equal to any challenge the maturity and experience of others in principal roles presented. Things got off to a good start when the wonderful White Rabbit, played to great effect by Sarah Stevens, entered to whisk Alice down the rabbit hole where she met the Caterpillar (Matt Dye). From then on things got “curious-er” and “curious-er” as Alice drank the shrinking potion and went through the little door to the kitchen to meet Diana Offord as the manic Duchess, Jenny Gore as the (pretty scary-looking) Cheshire Cat and Amanda Hourmand as The Cook. These and a chorus of chefs went into the first big number “We’re All Mad Here” – I believed them! As if that wasn’t enough we then joined the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with Adam Sneath (Mad Hatter), Vitto Zaina (March Hare) and Theo Coleridge (Dormouse) all joining Alice to give us a very amusing scene with some well-developed performances. We were then treated to yet more skill from Judith Brammar as the Queen of Hearts and Bic Baker as the downtrodden King. The court and croquet scenes were highly amusing. Before Alice had time to get her breath back she was accosted by Philip Chapman flapping manically as Gryphon and the morose Mock Turtle (John Beresford). Compliments to the hardworking chorus of children and adults who coped not only with the chorus numbers but several costume changes: plus dealing smoothly with scene changes too. They achieved a great deal of movement around the small stage with seemingly no problem. This musical has some lovely lilting numbers as well as the more robust ones and Musical Director Hilary Stokes and her three musicians were excellent, complimenting and supporting the singers without overpowering them. I think my favourite performances, apart from Alice, came from the White Rabbit, the Duchess, the Queen of Hearts and maybe the Dormouse. I’ve started something now as I keep thinking of other performances I enjoyed too so really I am being unfair to single specific performers out because everyone was good individually and it is no wonder they worked so well as a team. I do not have enough adjectives to describe the wonderful scenery painted by Betty Hunt and Prue van der Hoorn. The backdrop in particular was a star in itself. Top marks for the inspired Caterpillar costume which was only one of eighty plus costumes provided by Terry Baker, Phoebe Chambers and Caroline Boggust: they were all a joy to behold and complemented the colourful scenery. Emma Boggust and her team excelled with some brilliant make-up and Judith Willows had created some of the most ingenious props I have seen for a long time. There were also some convincingly clever animal heads provided by Maria Stringer. All these things added to the overall colourfulness of the production. One must not forget either the technical support from what was probably a huge number of people working unseen to keep things running smoothly. This group has members from aged 8 to 80 and it appears they all contributed in some way. Director Cheryl Lowery should be justly proud of her cast and support team. This was a family show in all ways. I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for inviting me and for looking after us so well