Adaptation of "Alice" gives monster more time

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 06:40 AM

Though film versions of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" focus much attention on the Queen of Hearts, the mythical monster the Jabberwock takes center stage in the adaptation that opens tonight at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.

In this version of “Wonderland,” adapted by co-director Mark Allen Woodard from Lewis Carroll's novel, there is still a land of giant mushrooms, talking flowers and a grinning, pink-and-purple cat where playing croquet involves a flamingo and a hedgehog. And when Alice falls down the rabbit hole, she encounters all kinds of strange creatures, but none as terrifying as the Jabberwock. Alice must learn to find out who she is, and in doing so, must battle the great beast. Along the way, she carries on conversations with a variety of characters, who tease her mercilessly with literary and phonetic jokes.

The production's cast of children and teenagers, who range from first grade to high school, moved smoothly through the production in rehearsal this week. Their ability to memorize a plethora of lines and cues will astound.

Three students play Alice: sisters Phoebe and Kylee Greene and Elizabeth Boerger. The three Alices transition from one to another without missing a step. Not only are their physical characteristics shockingly similar, but they have a knack of keeping their voices and personalities the same as well.

A handful of adults are also sprinkled throughout the cast, playing such roles as the Mad Hatter, Humpty Dumpty and the March Hare.

Tweedledee, played by Isaac Gambrell, and Tweedledum, played by Brian Costin, deliver their humorous lines brilliantly with British accents. The actors compliment each other in a sibling-like way. They were also quite active and moved around the stage, fighting, bickering and causing mayhem in flawless cohesion. Although these two characters can be irritating in the film versions of this story, they may turn out to be favorite characters in Woodard’s production.

Another bright spot is The Mad Hatter, played by Caleb Sigmon, and his twirling plates on sticks. When performing a trick onstage, anything can go wrong. And when one of the plates just would not twirl for Sigmon during rehearsal, he played it off beautifully.

But Cameron Owens, playing the Five of Spades, may steal the show. His ability to bring himself out of the ensemble and make the Five of Spades a memorable character was commendable. Owens’ use of different voice techniques and a natural gift of comedic relief brought out Five as more than just another of the Queen's foot soldiers.