By Sue Botos
The unseen narrator told the audience before Magnificat High School’s production of “Alice in Wonderland”, April 15, 16 and 17, to fasten their seatbelts for a wild and wacky flight. The spirited cast did not disappoint, drawing the audience through the rabbit hole into the magical world of “Wonderland”.
The classic story by Lewis Carroll, has had interpretations by everyone from Disney to Johnny Depp. This production added some unique flavor to the Mock Turtle(Nick Sobotka) soup, with some updated references and classical music to back up the “madness”.
Even some cast members’ pets got some time in the spotlight as Dianh, Alice’s cat and the pre-Wonderland White Rabbit were played by real animals. The audience was invited to suspend reality as Alice (Megan Delaney) used her fine acting abilities to “fall” down the rabbit hole and “swim” through her tears, following the rushing rabbit (St. Ignatius student Jimmy Krueger). Her guide and voice of reason through the mayhem in this version of Wonderland was the Cheshire Cat or “Chessie” played by St. Ignatius junior Cody Mason, attired in purple and blue stripes, and, of course a grin. In an original move, when Chessie was required to appear as just a grin, his likeness, sans the rest of him, was lowered from the top of the stage.
In this family-friendly version, the caterpillar, played to slithery perfection by Grace Corrigan, offered up advice while plying a flute, rather than a hookah pipe. Chessie also invited several audience members to the stage to help arm Tweedledee and Tweeledum for their “battle” with feather dusters. Young actors also got their chance to share the spotlight with older students, portraying “Heart Children”, accompanying the Queen of Hearts. This iconic Wonderland denizen was done hilariously by St. Ignatius junior Nick Smith, bellowing “Off with her head!” at the drop of a hat.
The uproarious duo of Nicole DiAnna as the Duchess and Grace Leneghan as the cook kept the audience in stitches, often without words, by flinging pepper around, leaving a trail of sneezes behind.
Of course, what would “Alice” be without the mad tea party? St. Ignatius junior Dan McCarthy was wonderfully wacky as the Mad Hatter, prancing on the uneven tea table with the March Hare (Emily Danckers) and the Dormouse (Katie Wearsch). It should be noted that the student actors were required to find a method to the madness, by reading background information about the characters and books created by Lewis Carroll. They learned what each character represents, and why the hatter was actually mad. (In Carroll’s day, mercury was used in the making of hats. After inhaling the substance over a period of time, many hatters did become “mad”.)
The production climaxed with a carry croquet game, played with pink flamingoes as mallets, and human playing cards as wickets. Alice’s trial took place in a “Curious and Curiouser” courtroom with hanging heads and the whole cast of characters” as jurors. Classical music was used effectively here, featuring “Also sprach Zarathustra”, better known as the theme from the movie “2001, A Space Odyssey”. Chessie gave a nod to the opening scene of the movie, appearing holding a bone. Also used for the trial were the themes from “Dragnet” and “Chariots of Fire” which accompanied a unique slow-motion set change.
Chessie assured Alice and the audience, that all the head chopping talk was just make- believe. But, he told Alice that once a child leaves “Wonderland”, they can’t return. This production gave even grown-ups a fun peek.