Playhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre
April 4 2012
By Marc Clayton.
Easter theatre going audiences of all ages were thoroughly entertained by The Queensland Ballet’s Alice In Wonderland. The ballet follows the classic story of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, when she chases the White Rabbit down its hole.
Artistic Director Francois Klaus created a ballet geared towards children, as were the original stories by Lewis Carroll. The music chosen was very unusual and quirky with scores form Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Irving Berlin) through to Flight of the Bumble-Bee (Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov).
From the first appearance of Wonderland and the White Rabbit, played by Tamara Hanton, we saw a modern take on this traditional classic. The White Rabbit was scurrying back and forth across the stage in bright red sneakers and playfully rode a skateboard. Hanton made the role look effortless with her high energy performance throughout the show – she was just like the Energizer Bunny! The Cook (Keian Langdon) and Duchess (Katherine Rooke) performed well together. Their pas de deux was fun with characterization oozing out of both performers. Blair Wood as The Mad Hatter was a very bold performer. His acting, energy, and dance kept drawing my eye every time he was on stage. The enthusiasm of the March Hare (Nathan Scicluna) and the well-executed characterization of the Dormouse (Gemma Pearce) also pleased the audience.
The role of Alice was danced by three of Queensland Ballet’s Junior Extension Program students; Caity Armstrong, Emma Langfield and Bianca Scudamore. At this performance it was Langfield’s day to shine and that she did. It is amazing that a child was able to keep up with and in some cases dance rings around some of the seasoned professionals. Langfield was a very professional young woman with great promise, lots of energy and endurance. As Alice she rarely left the stage during the performance.
One of the standout dancers was Yu Hui as the Caterpillar. This fun and captivating role required a lot, from working with many arms and working with a mushroom prop, to becoming a breathtaking butterfly with huge wings, all the while interacting with Alice.
The mischievous dancing twins Tweedledum & Tweedledee, played by Robert McMillan and Rian Thompson, were my favourite characters in the show with both dancers performing to their fullest potential. Their wit, characterisation and tricks, including a double tour while wearing a fat suit, were something to see and performing with Alice made it an interesting trio. Bravo for your wonderful performance!
Humpty Dumpty and Walrus were both entertaining characters perfected by guest artist Joseph Stewart. Stewart’s acting and dance really took on the actions and imitations of what you would believe of these characters.
Designed by Richard Jeziorny the costumes were all bright, colourful and creative with the Caterpillar to Butterfly transformations and the Walrus as definite standouts.
There was talking included in the program, which was slightly off putting. I believe that dancers can portray their characters to the audience through dancing, action and movements, with no need to speak lines such as “White Rabbit, White Rabbit” or “Off with her head”. This really did not add to the production at all but took our focus off the dance.
Queensland Ballet’s Alice In Wonderland is a fun, delightful performance and is one for all the family to enjoy.
Top photo: Queensland Ballet’s Alice in Wonderland. Tamara Hanton and dancers. Photo Ken Sparrow