Mark Foehringer’s Alice in Wonderland, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s timeless story, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.
The new production premiered at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, April 7, 2018.
The production featured collaborations with puppeteer Simon Trumble (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley), musical director Michael Morgan (Oakland Symphony), costume designer Stephanie Verriere (Verrieres & Sako), scenic designer Peter Crompton (award recipient of Bay Area Critic’s Choice, Shellies and many Goodman Choice awards), Projection Designer Frederic O. Boulay, and lighting designer Matthew Antaky (Opera Parallele, Cabrillo Music Festival).
To follow the events on stage it helped to be well acquainted with Alice and her adventures. The opening tea party was not that in Wonderland, but apparently on the lawn in Oxford, England where Lewis Carroll taught and met the real Alice. One had to look carefully for the Mad Hatter in the Wonderland tea party to know that was there. Events move very quickly. All could be clearer had we met the characters one at a time in an opening parade.
Rafael Boumaila portrayed the White Rabbit, a kind of ‘master of ceremonies’ who keeps Alice moving. Moses Kaplan was the Mad Hatter (and the Mushroom) and was delightful in that most artful of characters. Jetta Martens (Queen of Hearts) and Carlos Ventura (King of Hearts) kept the mischief of ‘stealing tarts’ cleverly feverish so the rescue operation succeeded. Other characters included LizAnne Roman Roberts (Cheshire Cat) and Emily Hansel (March Hare). Coral Martin and Jessica Egbert served as Puppeteers. Sonja Dale as Alice mimed, acted and danced her way with and beyond all the characters. She was always the center of attraction.
Foehringer was able to give this 50 minute production as whirlwind glimpse of the story. As an adult, I felt very advantaged; I knew the intricacies of each event from many years of reading. A child might feel more comfortable with fewer events, fewer characters and one simply through-line.
The design, especially Boulay’s projections and Antaky’s lighting deserves special awards. The live music, the musicians added unique delight to this production.
Joanna G. Harris