Review by Nan Lincoln
MOUNT DESERT — For Acadia Repertory Theater’s annual children’s theater offering, Artistic Director Cheryl Willis has fractured yet another classic children’s tale and tossed all the glittery, glowy, silly and saucy bits and pieces onto the stage for her cast of talented young actors to seize upon and transform into an hour of madcap fun.
This year it’s “Alice in Wonderland” that is getting the Willis treatment.
It starts out with a bang as the cast careens down the aisle of the theatre. They leap onto the stage for a sort of Charlie Brown meets Bollywood dance party and then collapse, understandably exhausted.
Alice, an infectiously feisty Mary Paola, is roused from her stupor by a very large and very worried rabbit (a dithery Sam Fidler), and of course he leads her and, as it turns out, her whole crew (Rawl Blackett, Desmond Reifsnyder, Olivia Michael and Beatrice Beutel) down a very psychedelic rabbit hole.
Using cutout props, the simplest of scenery and some fun special effects, Alice takes us on a wild ride with her confederacy of caterpillar, Cheshire cat, dormouse, Mad Hatter, mad queen, march hare, playing cards and more.
OK, it all doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but never mind. One suspects that Lewis Carroll, the writer of: “Twas brillig and the slithey toves did gire and gimble in the wabe” would not object to a little nonsense — as long as it was fun nonsense, and this is definitely that.
While Alice does address the young audience directly from time to time, inviting a response, a little more interactive elements in the singing and dancing, perhaps, might have engaged the youngsters even more.
Still, the smiles were wide on the faces of the kids who left the theater after a recent show eager to meet the actors for hugs and autographs.
And, oh yes, the parents were smiling too, and so was I.
“Alice in Wonderland” plays every Wednesday and Sunday at 10.30 a.m. through Aug. 24. Tickets available at the door. Visit acadiarep.com or call 244-7260.