Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto
Disappointed by her parents and harangued by the teacher, Alice Little's first day of middle school is so terrible she ends up hiding in the library. Things get even worse when she follows the White Rabbit into the wrong book and falls into Wonderland. To get back home, Alice will have to get past a pair of shade-throwing flowers, a White Queen who always moves back, a Red Queen who only moves forward, a ballad-belting Mad Hatter, and an oh-so-evil Queen of Hearts. Alice's guide on her strange journey is the purrrr-fectly marvelous Cheshire Cat. Alice struggles against the feeling that she is stuck in the middle of everything, but ultimately learns that the only way to get through life is by moving forward and enjoying all the good stuff that happens along the way.
Cheshire Cat is played by one of Philadelphia's most celebrated drag performers, the fantastic Eric Jaffe. Adorably charming and seriously funny, Jaffe lights up the stage. Jaffe also serves as the show's drag/gender representation consultant, making sure that absolutely everyone feels welcome. Inclusiveness is one of this production's greatest assets. Grace Ellis Solomon is endearing and sympathetic as exuberant young Alice. Every great story needs a great villain and Mary Elizabeth Scalle plays Miss Hard and the Queen of Hearts with hilariously over-the-top malice. Other stand-out performances include Kim Carson as Stepmom/Red Queen, Altamiece Carolyn Cooper as Mom/White Queen, and Justin Jain as Dad/White Rabbit.
Rebecca Kanach's excellent costumes–and there are dozens of them–are imaginative, flashy-fun, and impeccably executed. Pi Queen's make-up designs and Sapphira Crisal's wigs take the characters' looks to the next level. The entire production has a bright effervescent aesthetic that shines under Mike Inwood's dynamic lighting design.
Silly, splendid, unexpectedly heartwarming, and thoroughly engaging, Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto is a delightful holiday romp. Follow the White Rabbit to the People's Light and shimmy down that rabbit hole as soon as you can. Bring the whole family along with you for the adventure.
Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto runs through January 1, 2023, at People's Light's Leonard C. Haas Stage, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern PA. For tickets and information, call 610-644-3500 or visit peopleslight.org.
Book by Jennifer Childs
Lighting Designer Mike Inwood
Sound Design Robert Kaplowitz
Wig Designer Sapphira Cristal
Makeup Designer Pi Queen
Fight Director Eli Lynn
Drag/Gender Representation Consultant Eric Jaffe
Assistant Director Abby Weissman
Stage Manager Kate McSorley Fossner
Assistant Stage Manager Jess McPhillips
Stepmom/Red Queen: Kim Carson