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Review: Alice

Anna Riddel

Curiouser and curiouser, Alice takes a trip down the digital rabbit hole. Local school produces Australian premiere of new play.

As a child, I remember running my fingers over the elaborate drawing on the cover of my copy of Alice in Wonderland before thumbing through the pages to trace the sketches illustrated throughout it.

I remember the pure wonder and imagination that played out in my innocent mind as the story unfolded.

In the 150th anniversary since Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was first published, the classic tale has yet to fade. The story of the naïve yet bold young Alice still ignites a sense of wonder in those daring enough to delve into the story of all things “curiouser and curiouser”.

To coincide with this special occasion, Canberra school Daramalan College is staging the Australian premiere of a modern adaptation of the classic tale. Alice is a new musical play set in two acts, based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with the music and lyrics by both UK team James Leisy and Carl Eberhard and the book also by James Leisy. This will be the first time the production has been staged in Australia.

Daramalan teacher and director of the play, Lucy Smith, spoke to me about the new production of Alice. This production brings the well loved story into the 21st Century, where Alice is a modern-day girl. Instead of following the white rabbit down that infamous rabbit hole, she follows him into a computer game. Wonderland is created in the digital age with the characters and scenes we know and cherish, are portrayed as caricatures of themselves in an episodic format where Alice learns a new piece of knowledge needed to continue through the computer game and ultimately, life.

Audiences will enjoy a spectacle of colour, light and wondrous song and dance from this multi-talented cast.

With a total of 50 students in the cast, crew, orchestra and backstage, Lucy tips her hat to the level of skill and dedication from the students that have enabled the production to be developed and staged.

“The process in developing this production was truly a collaborative effort by the students who have had two intensive multi-day workshops to create the work, including a three-day camp at Burrill Pines over the March long weekend,” shares Lucy.

At this point the producer of the show (teacher and local dramaturg) Joe Woodward, praises the school’s dedication to pursuing quality arts opportunities for the students of Daramalan College. Over the last few decades, this has involved the nurturing of close industry contacts and the ensuing opportunities created through these. This includes hosting the Kim Harvey ballet school (now in Dickson), close links with Canberra Youth Theatre, and proactively developing educational links with NIDA that stretch back to the early 1990s.

Says Joe, “In the early 90s, Anne Smith (the school’s former creative arts director) attended a workshop for teachers run by NIDA, she then co-ordinated for NIDA to come and give workshops directly to the students at Daramalan.”

From here the workshops for younger people developed into an open program run by NIDA in most Australian states, including several workshops a year with Daramalan still hosting some of the Canberra NIDA open program courses.

This production is a fantastic opportunity for the public to take a step back and experience emerging youth talent and to have a glimpse of the outstanding feats that are possible at a high school level. This is a perfect show to expand the imaginations of children and teenagers, as well as a chance for adults to take a trip down nostalgia lane.

The essentials

What: Alice
When: 7.30pm Wednesday 6 to Saturday 9 May and 1pm matinee on Saturday 9 May
Where: McCowage Hall, Daramalan College, Dickson
Tickets: $18 Concession; $25 Adult; and $72 Family (2 adults and 2 children; for additional family members add $18 per person)


Anna Riddel

Anna Riddel is a singer, director, keynote speaker and a passionate teacher. In 2012, her song Breathe, received a runner up position in the USA International Song Of The Year Songwriting Contest. Anna is currently a Voice tutor at NIDA, as well as a tutor in Music Pedagogy at UNSW. Her company Speak Don’t Talk consults on voice and communication across a range of industries. Anna is an avid Brumbies fan and a self professed coffee snob. Follow her on twitter @annariddel More about the Author

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