Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mad as a Hatter. Russell Garrett plays iconic role in new Wonderland at Wheelock

I have been a theatre artist for many years now and one thing that never gets tiring is seeing and feeling an audience respond to a live performance. That becomes even more exciting when I realize that many of the patrons in the audience are young people who may not have seen a lot of theatre; or perhaps the show I’m performing in may be the first live show they have ever seen.  Wheelock Family Theatre provides that for so many young people and their families.

ALICE marks my second time performing at WFT.  I previously played Uncle Archibald in THE SECRET GARDEN and although I was a small part of that show, the engagement and joy of the audience was palpable.  Here was a well-known story, primarily about children, who’s telling rested so much on the young actors’ shoulders.  The audience was spellbound, not only by the story, but the fact that they were seeing kids their own age bringing it to life right in front of their eyes.  This was further validated on days the ‘red carpet’ was rolled out in the lobby and countless children were given the opportunity to meet the actors who had moved them and have a personal moment with them.  It was joyous and a little humbling to realize how transformative theatre can be.

Though that was my only experience working with WFT (up until now) I have seen countless productions here.  The spell cast is always the same: a story that can appeal to both young and old and an approach that continues to de-mystify our perceptions of color and ability.  WFT has always held fast to their mission of non-traditional casting and has led the way here in Boston to provide wonderful opportunities for adults and children alike to not only take the stage playing roles they may not play elsewhere, but for audiences to see stories that reach beyond color and race.  The stories are about people.

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