Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland 2:
Also see Sharon's review of Singin' In the Rain
Early on in the Troubadour Theater Company's Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland 2: Through the Looking Glass, one of the male characters is revealed to be wearing a bra. It gets a laugh, especially from the kids in the audience. About forty-five minutes later, a sleeveless costume briefly reveals a peek of the same bra. And I thought, "This is a guy who is wearing a bra under his clothes for this whole show for a single laugh."
And it isn't just feminine undergarments. At one point in the show, Alice opens her wardrobe and ... a lion and a witch run out. (Get it?) Costume Designer Sharon McGunigle apparently put together these two costumes for a single visual joke. There are no lengths the Troubies won't go to in order to get a laugh. One imagines that, after a performance, they're spent, bruised, in need of hydration, surrounded by bits of whatever props happened to be casualties of the day's merriment, and satisfied. If everyone were as committed to their day jobs as the Troubadours are to entertaining, we could be twice as productive in half the time.
Their current production, a sequel to last year's Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland, picks up where the original left off. Well, no, actually, it picks up by summarizing the original—and if the Troubies seem a bit frenetic in general, wait till you see them in fast-forward. They take about 15 minutes running through the high points of when sweet little Alice found herself in a land populated by bizarre characters who sang pop tunes (and were sometimes identifiable as having origins in the work of Lewis Carroll). But the story of Alice 1 was all a dream had by Alice of "The Brady Bunch,"—and Alice 2 follows our plucky maid on her own journey, away from her dreary life with the Bradys (extra points for including Oliver) and into Wonderland.
As with its predecessor, Alice 2 has rockin' renditions of one-hit-wonder songs (often with lyrics comically changed), characters from Lewis Carroll, a lot of goofy physical comedy, and a dash (or more) of improvisation. This shorter (single act) production seems a bit more kid-friendly than the original—with an extended jump rope sequence (to "Double Dutch Bus") sure to impress. But it isn't all for children. When a bus comes by to the strains of "Pass the Dutchie," kids will probably miss the significance of the cloud of smoke and well-placed bag of Doritos, but their folks will certainly get it.
And if you don't like that joke, there's another coming right behind it. Director Matt Walker (who is on stage for most of the production, ready to add comical sound effects and demand "New line!" when he doesn't like what he hears) never lets the pace lag or a bit drag on too long.
There's a teensy bit of a moral to the story. But, basically, Alice 2 is just a quick afternoon of fun for pretty much everyone.
Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland 2: Through the Looking Glass runs at the Falcon Theatre (in repertory) through October 12, 2008. For tickets and information, see www.FalconTheatre.com.
The Falcon Theatre presents the Troubadour Theater Company in Alice in One-Hit-Wonderland 2: Through the Looking Glass. Set Designer Sherry Santillano; Lighting Designer Nick McCord; Costume Designer Sharon McGunigle; Sound Designer Robert Ramirez; Stage Managers Deirdre Murphy, Corey Womack; Musical Director Eric Heinly; Choreographers Nadine Ellis, Ameenah Kaplan, Christine Lakin; Directed by Matt Walker.