Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Review of ALICE at Wheelock Family Theatre

October 24, 2014
By: Ali Hutchinson, editor and publisher of Macaroni Kid Newton-Brookline

Last weekend, my son, friend, and I were guests of the Wheelock Family Theatre for their production of Alice.  We attended the Sunday afternoon performance which was scheduled to begin at 3:00pm.  The literature on the production recommends the show for children ages 6 and up, so I decided to leave my 4 year old son at home.  In hindsight, although he most likely would not have been able to follow along with the plot, the action and colorful costumes most likely would have captured his attention enough to keep him engaged. 

From the moment we sat down, my son began asking questions about the set.  "Why is there a bed momma? Is Alice going to start there?  What is the wood on the side for?  Will they be going up and down?"  It was exciting to see the sparks of imagination fly and the intrigue build as we waited for the show to begin. I could tell he was anticipating and wondering about the show. The set design was creative and multi-purpose.  Many pieces were used for different purposes in different scenes throughout the show.

WFT's closed captioning along the side wall for the entire script was not nearly as distracting as I had initially thought it might be.  As a matter of fact, it turned out to be quite helpful.  My second grader who is learning to read and who sometimes misinterprets words in songs was able to follow along with the characters as they spoke and sang.  I never heard, "what did she say"?  He was able to refer to the closed captioning and figure it out for himself.

The show itself quickly drew us in. Right from Alice's (Maritza Bostic) first song, I began to feel for her; able to identify with a time when I wanted to do anything except that which was expected of me.  I remember the feeling when my parents said, "Don't disappoint me". That feeling was evident on Alice's face.  Between the characters facial expressions, voices, and mannerisms, we all felt as if we suddenly became a part of this world; a friend of Alice's; and we were making this journey with her.

I was especially impressed with the young actress who plays Alice's cat Dinah(Julia Talbot), and then dons a puppet to take on the persona of the Cheshire Cat.  At only 14 years old, both her physical interpretation of a cat's behavior and her vocal deliverance of the lines were strikingly accurate and those realms of reality and fantasy began to collide.

Alice's interactions with the Mouse (William Gardiner) were especially endearing; displaying tender conversations and moments of what you imagine might go on between Alice and her father.  The scenes with the Duchess and Cook as well as the Tea Party with the Mad Hatter, Hare, and Dormouse infused physical comedy into the show. There was also action in the aisles at times.  A range of emotions are felt as Alice finally finds her garden, is disappointed as it no longer looks how she imagined, and then comes to a realization about growing up.  Even my 7 year old looked up at me at one point with tears in his eyes.  Even as a young theatre goer, he was able to be drawn into the lives and emotions of the characters.  It is truly a magical show when a performance can cross ages and generations and have the same effect on vastly different people with different experiences.

I have to mention that by far the best part of the show for my son was after it was over, when the cast lined up in the foyer and were available for pictures and autographs.  He was enamored!  And although we got pictures with almost all of the cast, I'll share just a couple. The cast does this after every Sunday afternoon show.

Here he is with Alice and then with a couple of the Flower Buds. If you hadn't considered going to see the show, consider it.  Alice runs on Friday nights at 7:30, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm.  

Please note:  I was given press tickets to review this show for my readers.  All of the ideas and statements in this article are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's a great idea to have theater for families! Then everyone can go see a play and enjoy it. I love going to the theater to see productions, and sometimes I like to go to plays that are more for adults as well. I am hoping to see a play soon, I just need to find one that is in my area that I may go to!


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