In UNC Greensboro Theatre's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's fairy tale Alice in Wonderland, Jim Wren adds a modern interpretation to the play, making it applicable to adults and children alike. When Alice falls asleep at her computer, she falls into the modern day rabbit hole of the internet and goes on a wild ride where she meets all sorts of characters on the way. Although reinventing the show to include impressive hip hop choreography and rap battles for a modern audience resulted in sacrificing some of the plot line, considering the ephemeral nature of the original work and the extreme entertainment this adaptation provides, the target audience of middle to high school aged kids probably did not miss the plot line very much.
Aside from a few lost moments due to upstaging or lost dialogue, the actors presented a strong performance all around. The most memorable performances came from the Tweedle twins and the White Knight. The White Knight maintained his manic energy throughout his scene with impressive stamina. The Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum twins' skill shone in their execution of the crumping choreography during the Mad Hatter's block party. While the spectrum of circus performers, from fire eaters to ribbon dancers, may have distracted audience members from the conclusion of the show, these characters added a nice touch of insanity throughout this modern Wonderland that paralleled Alice's journey in the original work.
As far as quality goes, the designs for this show displayed the highest. Both scenic and lighting designs worked together very harmoniously to create an excellent playing space for creating the story. The grid walls immediately set the stage for a computerized world. The far upstage rake, while seemingly impossibly steep, played well into the controlled chaos of the Mad Hatter's "block party" and the characters manic antics. It appears that it was built in plenty of time for the actors to become comfortable working with it, as no one slipped or missed a beat running back and forth on scooters or platform shoes throughout the course of the performance. The disco-fever lighting design decorated the scenery nicely and illuminated actors well and added a finishing touch to the well-suited scenic design.
The highlight of the show is certainly found in its costumes. The concept behind the designs, especially for the Queen of Hearts and the Caterpillar, were truly brilliant. Use of expandable-retractable glow-in-the-dark balls for Caterpillar's body and a skirt of playing cards for the Queen added beautiful spectacle to the show without distracting from the action onstage. Her height in the six-inch platform shoes she wore, in which she moved with ease, gave her regal stature above her subjects and mixed very well with the over-the-top nature of the world of the play.
The cast and crew present this modern adaptation in a way audience members of any age can relate to and enjoy. Alice's beautiful and innovative scenic, lighting, and costume designs took the actors' performances to another level and gave the show the finishing touch it needed to excel. By transforming the rabbit hole into an internet netherworld, Jim Wren and Joe Sturgeon set up an applicable thought line for the adaptation of their show. With hardly an empty seat in the house, the cast and crew surely ended their run on a strong note.
The show ended 11/21.
*The author is a member of CVNC's internship program at Meredith College.