Monday, May 15, 2017

reviews - WONDERLAND: ALICE'S ROCK & ROLL ADVENTURE - Childsplay

Katie McFadzen, Kyle Sorrell, Michelle Chin, and Lauren McKay
photo by Tim Trumble
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 21st.

"...Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure...all the rock ‘n roll is played by the actors; they’re the band (and) the rock ‘n roll is not simply good, it’s really good. When Alice (Michelle Chin) sits bored at her piano, running through her usual key-note practices and singing of a Lazy Day, she suddenly breaks rhythm and hits those keys with a fresh vigor...With music and lyrics from Michael Mahler – ...and a book with additional lyrics from Rachel Rockwell...This is a great score....an 80-minute condensed version of the two classic Lewis Carroll novels...all combines into one big adventure for the little girl who begins the day feeling bored...incorporating the familiar characters that most adults already know, and ones that younger members of the audience will perhaps be meeting for the first time, and they’re all fun. Among them, there’s the meditating Caterpillar (Tommy Strawser) ... The Cheshire Cat (Cullen Law) with that famous, enlarged, half-moon grin full of teeth, painted on the back of his violin; Tweedle Dum (Tommy Strawser), Tweddle Dee (Kyle Sorrell); all the nutty gang of the Mad Hatter’s Tea party, including Doormouse (Marshall Vosler), March Hare (Lauren McKay), plus the Hatter himself (Katie McFadzen), and later, Alice’s encounter with the powerhouse rock ‘n roller Red Queen (Lauren McKay). There’s also a very funny encounter with the two, gossipy red roses who want to give Alice a makeover, and a charming Unicorn (Osiris Cuen) who can think of six impossible things to do before breakfast. Musician Danielle Moreau may not be an official Wonderland character, but her presence and musical support is always on view with drums and percussion, that is, until she has to move aside and make way for Alice, who grabs the sticks and beats the skins for a take-no-prisoners drum solo of her own. There’s a tendency during the more raucous songs for lyrics to drown and clarity momentarily lost, but then again, that’s rock and roll for you; it happens at concerts all the time. ... it’s the pulsating beat that carries things through, and even if you can’t always hear exactly what’s being sung, you get the idea......" -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Childsplay continually produces some of the most imaginative and entertaining theatrical productions for children of all ages in the Valley, and their latest endeavor, Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, is no exception. This pop/rock update on Lewis Carroll's famous story is a fun, refreshing and upbeat journey down the rabbit hole with a cast who also expertly make up the show's band and with creative elements that are nothing short of sublime.The plot of Rachel Rockwell's adaptation will be familiar to fans of the book. Alice, 7 ½ years old, is bored and desperately wishes for something to happen, singing in her haunting solo song "Lazy Day" that "nothing ever happens to me." So she follows the White Rabbit down his rabbit hole and through her adventures gets advice, both good and bad, from the familiar crazy characters in the book, including the Mad Hatter, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. Michael Mahler's smart, varied score features plenty of upbeat, toe-tapping tunes. Rockwell's dialogue and Rockwell and Mahler's fun and clever lyrics deliver some important lessons, including that it's ok to be different, to believe in the impossible, and that finding who you truly are makes you strong, without being preachy. The cast comprises many Childsplay regulars, including Michelle Chin as Alice, who expertly evokes the imaginative, curious tyke perfectly; Kyle Sorrell as a charming and somewhat endearing White Rabbit; and Kate McFadzen, who makes for a zany Mad Hatter. ...Lauren McKay makes a most auspicious Childsplay debut as the very intimidating Red Queen. Director Anthony Runfola keeps a frenzied and frantic pace throughout, which helps keep the 80-minute show moving. Robbie Harper provides some fun and lively choreography. Music director Alan Ruch has done an exceptional job, considering the cast provides the musical accompaniment...The creative aspects play off the weird and abstract style of the book with bright, psychedelic costumes from Connie Furr Soloman, fantasy inspired wigs from Kate Mammana, Jeff A. Davis' sumptuous lighting, and Daniel Cariño's animated projections all playing out on Aaron Jackson's fantastical set.... plays up the fun aspects of life while also slightly touching upon a few important things to learn without being overly sentimental. A lyric in the opening number states, "Take a permanent vacation from the boring and the bland, it's much nicer to be here in Wonderland." I couldn't agree more, as Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure is a fun respite from the ordinary.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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