I have to be honest, if you asked me who my all time favorite bunny is I would have to go with the Easter Bunny. No offense White Rabbit, but the Easter Bunny gives out jelly beans. If one were to really think about it, what does the second most famous bunny really have to offer besides near constant worry? Ulcers? Well, he might not make the cuddliest of backyard pets, but the White Rabbit (along with most of the characters present in Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) are certainly worthy of their constant reimagining in a variety of mediums.
Playing now through mid-May at the Marriott Theatre in Linconshire, Alice in Wonderland is one such adaptation. As far as introductions go, I think the play hit its mark. While I would not go so far as to call any of the musical numbers memorable, the acting and singing was all top notch. Holly Stauder’s Flamenco inspired Cheshire Cat and Scott Calcagno almost exasperated Mad Hatter stood out for their subtle creative flourishes. And Emily Rohm put just enough indignation and sass to make for a well developed Alice. The play goes light on set design (and I think it borrows a bit from the Andrew Lloyd Webber tribute that is also playing at the Marriott Theater) but more than makes up for it by offering live music, brilliant costume design, and excellent lighting (which was used, among other things, to suggests a cavernous rabbit hole). Taking full advantage of Marriott’s intimate theater in the round experience, the actors also frequently move about the audience and are not above the occasional adlib. That, plus the frequent calls for crowd participation, makes for a very family friendly experience.
I do wish, however, that the production did a better job of story telling. Too much of the play involves a character meeting Alice, singing about what he or she is about, and then vacating the stage to allow another creative character room to sing. Very little of this singing actually advances the story.
Enough of what I think, will children like this? The two girls I brought to the play, both nine, loved the performance. Looking about the audience and listening to what others had to say after the play ended, I would guess that your kids would also enjoy the play.
Bottom Line: Alice in Wonderland is recommended for children aged four through nine. Younger children might have trouble sitting through the performance and older kids might find this a bit young for their tastes. After the performance, stick around for a questions and answers session with cast members. To purchase tickets, click here marriottheatre.com . For more reviews to this and other plays, click here theaterinchicago.com.
Photos courtesy of Marriott Theatre