Wonderland High

Date 15th March 2019
Society Springers Amateur operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford
Type of Production Musical
Director Kevin Jarvis
Musical Director Sophie Anne Chaplin
Choreographer Kat Mckeon, Assistant Choreographer Emily Peplow


Author: Christine Davidson

Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by Wilma Smart , thank you so much for taking the time to look after us, the drinks in the interval were most welcome. We were also pleased to meet Kevin and Becky, the directors who were so proud of their cast and crew, they were incredibly enthusiastic about the whole of their production.  So good to see the passion for creating a very new musical which probably was not an easy task as the music was sometimes a little forgettable, with constant cuts for dialogue.  Also finally to meet Jackie Bates; great to put a face to a name at last.

Forty two children on a relatively small stage but each and every one gave their all. The very young cast (youngest was just seven) each showed their own characterisation of their individual roles. Everyone had been choreographed and blocked extremely well. The joy and excitement which showed on all their faces was wonderful, I’m sure it was infectious as they got a standing ovation from the audience at the end.

Based very loosely on Alice in Wonderland, we see Arthur Bloom arriving at Wonderland High for his first day, discovering it’s no ordinary school but a school where croquet is bigger than football. Incredible strange things happen all around him and trying to eat in the canteen is an ordeal.

The older leads were excellent. The show opened with a very confident, at ease, Arthur (Matt Scott) who sung beautifully and had a good American accent.  His wide eyed bewilderment at what was going on around him coupled with his stage presence gave us a great opening with the song ‘Welcome to Wonderland ‘.  Matt was an excellent choice by the directors, for the lead male in this production.  I loved his song ‘Did Shakespeare ever feel this way’

Arthur meets Harry (James Birchmore), the school monitor, James has the most beautifully clear singing voice, his expressions and mannerisms on stage were superb. James is obviously one to watch for the future, as he shone on stage.

Alice (LulaHemmings), the beautiful Queen of the group of cheerleaders, had a crystal clear singing voice and credibly changed through the production, from top dog, to outcast of the group.

Sicily Riordan as Allison, is the arrogant, spirited friend of Alice, wanting desperately to supplant Alice as the Red Queen, making her the villain everyone loves to despise.  Her scornful triumph is shown in the fine comic number "Hate Me!" with the cheerleaders behind her as a back-up group. (I loved her final red dress)

Katt (LoisGardner) is the proprietor of the school shop where anything can be bought for a price, her songs ‘You can have whatever you want -- if you've got the 'Ka-Ching'!" and ‘Who are You’ produced a strong sassy performance from Lois.

Paul (Connor Mason) played the dense, dull boyfriend of Alice well, with his gang of hoodlum croquet players he was looked up to by the whole school.

Good cameo performances by Isabel Turner as Dr Bloom, and with Max Eagle as the School Principle Cheshire. Preston, played by Haydn Hemmings, made me laugh; he has such an infectious smile and comic timing.  Super naïve geeky performance by Abbie Gansbuehler and so glad she got to be Queen at the end of the show. I loved the little snoring dormouse Dora (Olivia Lambert).

Forgive me if I don’t mention everyone, as there were so many of you on stage but you can all pat yourselves on the back for a super show where you all shone throughout the performance.

The set and props were excellent, thanks to Gary Jarvis for his huge painted doors either side of the stage. The costumes were great; I loved the card suits emblems on all the faces. Lighting and sound were professionally produced.

This show was a hard one for everyone to do as it needs pace, timing, with the Lewis Carol jokes to be punch out to the audience. Sometimes the vocals were a little quiet needing to be projected a little more but the love and enthusiasm for this show was evident. I do hope that a few more bums on seats rocked the show for the last night.

Congratulations to all and I hope to see you all in your next show.