By: Corinne Cameron & Rob Minshall
I am very happy to now be writing “Show Reviews” for local, family-friendly, community theater productions as part of my blog. It is only fitting that my first review for Cape Cod Mommies would be for the Woods Hole Theater Company’s production of “Alice in Wonderland”, written by Lewis Carroll and adapted by local playwright Holly Erin McCarthy. Why is it fitting you ask? Well my debut blog entry was a piece on the Show’s director, Lisa Jo Rudy, and her vision of the show and what she wanted to accomplish.
The energy in the Woods Hole Community Hall was palpable on the Show’s opening night with last minute costumes flying by and eager parents waiting to see all the hard work of their little ones about to come to fruition. I sat there in the full house with my co-reviewing partner my husband Rob (We used to be the theatre reviewers for the Barnstable and Falmouth Patch), my 15 year old-step children Samantha and William and my 2 year-old Remy! My goal was to get their opinion in order to encompass the wide range of ages of my family, including how Remy reacted to his first play as an audience member. So, needless to say, this experience could have been delightful or a disaster, having nothing to do with the production itself, as you never know how a 2 year-old is going to react to, well..anything!
As the house light lowered, the show started out on a humorous note with the sweet sounding voices of children singing the first verse of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before it turned into an “Alice” rendition (I’ll leave it at that as not to ruin it). McCarthy’s clever writing and humor was a treat in that all ages were able to understand and enjoy not just the song but the entire story as a whole.
Director Lisa Jo Rudy stuck to her vision that she spoke about in my original blog post (can be found here) in casting many children, some of which are kids that might not have gotten a chance to be in principle roles elsewhere. In a side conversation with Ms. Rudy, she explained that some cast members and instrumentalists were on the autistic spectrum or had other challenges, but to be honest, I couldn’t tell who they were. The whole cast of 30-plus kids and only 3 adults, stayed very focused while on stage, something that is a rare treat when working with little ones.
The action opened with the “medium” Alice played by Angelina Dvorak going through her tutor lessons before embarking on her trip down the rabbit hole. The clever use of set pieces, designed by Peter D. Cook and Bryan Wilde and the use of 3 actresses playing “Alice” let the audience see the different size proportions right before their eyes. The classic part of the story was honored by having Alice Drink the “Drink Me” vial or Eat the “Eat Me” sweet, she appeared to shrink into the “small” Alice , played by Nora Denietolis or grow to the “giant” Alice played by Hope Blanchard.
I will mention that opening night jitters may have gotten the best of Dvorak and Blanchard as they both rushed through their lines making it a bit hard to understand, however, both their facial expressions and stage presence let them shine in their small roles. The majority of the show was performed by the “Small” Alice and 11 year-old Nora Denietolis shined on stage and carried the show with the professionalism of a seasoned actor. Her energy was infectious and stage presence commanding not allowing the audience to be able to take their eyes off of her.. In a good way!
The one exception to the last statement was when sisters (in real life) Lily and Chloe Rapoza, playing Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, took over the stage. Their comic timing and facial expressions were superb, all while having to manipulate their cumbersome costume. It was almost disappointing when they left the stage knowing they wouldn’t be returning as Alice made her way to see the Queen of Hearts.
Other actors of note were Ursula Junker who played the door-mouse. She always remained in her character and was a hoot to look at with her sleepy demeanor. One thing I would highly suggest, especially if you are bringing little ones to see it, is to get there early for good seating. The space is small with only floor seating, and general admission to boot, so little ones and even adults will miss some of the action because of sight lines. I mention this here because my Samantha commented that Junker had some great moments with her physical acting when at the tea party and that she was able to see from her advantage point, while I, who was sitting next to her, couldn’t see Junker at all due to the low placement of the table. On the flip side, I was able to see Isabella Youmans, another standout as the March Hare, who was sitting at a different part of the tea party table where the rest of my family could not.
If you are familiar with Alice in Wonderland, you know that there are always unique items sprinkled through Alice’s journey. Prop Designer, Bryan Wilde, did a fabulous job with those touches utilizing large tea cups and flamingos used as croquet mallets. In addition to outstanding the props, the costuming of this show is a huge undertaking and Costumer Aimee Rozum definitely succeeded in her task. The costumes and props take you into “another world” and each character that comes on stage raises the bar from the last, culminating in the expertly dressed “Queen of Hearts” played by Kit Palmer and “King of Hearts” played by Abe Lineaweaver.
Overall, this was quite an enjoyable show that is a great activity for the whole family to relish in the entertainment. It’s also a great opportunity for your budding young thespian to witness that child actors can carry a show, sometimes better then their fellow adult cast members. The running time is just over an hour and was perfect even for my little Remy to behave for the entire performance cuddled in his Dad’s arms.
If you want to go there, are only 4 performances left on February 18th & 20th at 7:00pm, February 22nd at 4:00pm and February 23rd at 2:00pm. Get your tickets asap by calling the box office at (508) 540-6525. The Woods Hole Theater Company is located at the Woods Hole Community Hall, 68 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543.
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