The Overlook Theatre Company really outdid themselves this weekend with the Alice in Wonderland musical held at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. I try to make it to each of the theatre company’s performances, and I always enjoy their plays, but Alice in Wonderland takes the cake as my favorite to date.
The hour-long, one-act play might have sounded as if it had an easy setup, but Scotty Corbin and his team did an exceptional job reenacting Lewis Carroll's classic novel. From the music choices, to the scenery, to the unbelievable costumes, to the extraordinary actors, the entire play kept me entertained from start to finish.
Lindsay Wright, who played Alice, did an exceptional job playing the part and kept me laughing throughout the entire play. She was able to capture Alice's child-like curiosity and heroine attributes as she stumbled around Wonderland. Even Wright's costume, a light blue dress with a floral pinafore, was creative and specific to the ideals of the children's classic literature.
I must say, while Wright's performance was amazing, Drew Townsend as the White Rabbit really stole the show. I couldn't imagine a better White Rabbit performance. Decked in an adult-sized rabbit costume, topped with a fancy vest and pocket watch, Townsend shifted back and forth between pompous behavior toward Alice and others beneath him, such as the cards painting the Queen's roses and spastic uncertainty and insecurity just as well as White Rabbit did in Carroll's original literature. Constantly fidgeting and obnoxiously frazzled, Townsend stayed true to his character throughout the play and filled the performing arts center with hilarious entertainment.
Heather Lenox and Robert Jessup were hysterical as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and with costumes that rounded them out, the two seemed to skip around the stage, as clumsy and lost as the characters were expected to be. The twins are a nice slice of comic relief added to the character list and both Jessup and Lenox did a remarkable job of portraying the characters' innocence.
At first I was skeptical of how the crew would be able to portray the infamous Cheshire Cat, but after Samuel Crabtree took to the stage wearing a puppet suit, the use of neon lights against a simple black backdrop provided the same magic and mystery that the Cheshire Cat is known and loved for. Complete with a floating head, Crabtree did a marvelous job of creating the mystifying curious cat and guiding Alice throughout her journey in Wonderland. Because I was so skeptical of how the role would be pulled off, after it was executed so well, I was a bit disappointed to not see more of the obscure feline.
Paul Garner wowed in his role as the calm, cool and collected caterpillar that Alice encounters along her journey. His costuming, complete with a trench coat which sported his additional legs, was fun and creative, to say the least. The interaction between Garner and the adorable cast of flowers was probably the highlight of the show. The bright colors and confusing, very caterpillar-like statements made in conversation depicted the roles as well as I remember when first reading the book. The flowers song and dance were perfectly indicative of Carroll's “All in the Golden Afternoon.”
No trip to Wonderland is complete without the chaos and confusion of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Corbin as the Mad Hatter and Everett Wright as the March Hare were two perfect individuals to play the role of creating pure madness. Celebrating the most joyous holiday of the year, a very Merry Unbirthday, both Corbin and Everett has me rolling on the floor in tears laughing at the seemingly impromptu performance. Corbin's costume was electric, matching the colorful and unpredictable personality of the Mad Hatter. Wright and Corbin's shunning of Alice as an outsider and seemingly pointless game of musical chairs was pleasantly impetuous. Neither Corbin nor Wright would have been able to fairly depict their roles without the help of one absolutely adorable door mouse, Charity Covher. Covher did a phenomenal job of keeping her cool and ambivalent composure while complete and utter madness erupted around her. She added a spice of “awe” to the musical.
Nikki Corbin owned the role as the play's villain, the notorious Queen of Hearts. Her costume alone, a Victorian style dress, demanded attention when it swept on to stage and spoke volumes about the Queen's personality. Nikki brilliantly controlled the stage and powered over all she came into contact with, including her husband, The King of Hearts, played by David Spivey. Her high-pitch cackle was ear-shattering and help the audience love to hate her character. Nikki did a supreme job of delivering a larger-than-life performance to the Queen's role in Wonderland.
Each and every member of the cast was exquisite and offered an entire hour of quality entertainment. Scotty Corbin's artistic vision for the play was more than one could have imagined. The constantly evolving set did a wonderful job of providing aesthetics that allowed the audience to fall down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.
All in all, I could not have been more pleased with the Overlook Theatre Company's performance, and am that much more excited for their next creation.