We all know Lewis Carrol’s classic 1865 story of Alice In Wonderland. Alice, a girl, falls into a fantastical imaginary world of wonder and possibility. On her journey she meets a plethora of weird and wonderful characters like the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts.
More than twenty different film versions of the story have been created and now, more and more, we are starting to see these popping up on the theatre scene too, bringing the magic alive on stage. Paul Harnett and Rebcecca Crookshank have written a brand new musical adaption of the story (with music and lyrics by Dan Williams and Jay Reynolds) which is being cleverly performed at the St James Studio in Victoria at lunchtimes, with the premise being that for just £10 you can see a show, during your lunch break and be back in the office within the hour!
The St James Studio is a small theatre space but works well for a lunchtime theatre show. The set is simple and the cast of eight are balanced out so the stage isn’t crowded at any one time. The music is good and there are a few catchy numbers which get your toes tapping along with them. The story has been rewritten and merged down to less than 45 minutes (which I’m sure has been no easy task) but managed to keep the essence of the message, in a unique and psychedelic way.
Hannah Toy plays the role of Alice, sweet and innocently which allows Mateo Oxley’s flamboyant Cheshire Cat character to not become too overpowering against her on stage. Dougie Carter brings the crazy humour you would expect from the Mad Hatter and Ceris Hine does a great job as Mouse/Pidgeon, changing characters with ease. Jamie Coleman’s rather small part of Guard is well done and he stands out despite not being on stage a great deal. Kerry Enright is a force to be reckoned with and blows the rest of the cast out of the water with her incredibly powerful voice. By the time she comes on stage during the second half of the show, the audience have been eased into the production and are ready for her to give it to them (and give it to them she does).
‘The band’ are credited in the programme but must have eaten the magical shrinking cake from Wonderland as they were no where to be seen on the stage. Live musical would have been a nice touch to the show but given the space available on stage it is understandable that this may not have been possible.
Alice: A New Musical is a nice way to spend a lunchtime if you are in the Victoria area. I was dubious about whether it would be possible for office workers to get to the theatre and back in an hour but at just 40minutes long I think the show probably does give you the right amount of time. So why not go and check it out?
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photos: Darren Bell
Alice: A New Musical is playing at the St James Theatre, Victoria at 12pm and 1pm until 21 March 2015. Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Take a look at my video interview with Writer/Director Paul Harnett and Assistant Director Nikki Davis-Jones.