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Alice in Wonderland

by on 24 March 2018

Magic From the Hat

Disney Alice in Wonderland Jr

music by Bryan Louiselle, adapted by David Simpatico from Lewis Carroll

Dramacube Productions, Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford, until 24th March

Review by Eleanor Lewis

It’s safe to say at present that there are a lot of highly talented professional child performers around. Should they choose to stay in a difficult profession this gives us all something to look forward to in a decade or so when they reappear on stage and screen as equally talented adults. Judging by Dramacube’s production of Alice in Wonderland at Watermans this Friday some of this talent will hail from west London.

HH&S Cast Caterpillar & Co

Dramacube provides opportunities for children aged 7-14 to perform in musicals in working theatres such as The Rose in Kingston, Epsom Playhouse and Hampton Hill Theatre. Getting children to perform without self-consciousness or simple fear once faced with a real, live audience is a tricky business. A confident, relaxed child in school or rehearsal can succumb to a fit of panic once the lights go down and there are a lot of people s/he doesn’t know sitting in rows waiting to be entertained. Granted, Dramacube’s young members all want to be on stage and have been trained to that end but the consistent level of performance skill from everyone on stage was still impressive.

 

 

There were four different casts responsible for two performances each of Alice, no small feat of organisation for the production team headed by Stephen Leslie but nonetheless one they managed to pull off efficiently. The Hampton Hill and Sunbury cast gave it their all on Friday evening in a slick, fast-paced production of David Simpatico’s stage adaptation of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. The show ran like clockwork, every child was aware of where they were supposed to be on stage, when they were supposed to be there and what they were required to do. Many of the children – possibly all of them – had more than one role to learn alongside dance moves, songs and lines and their ability to do this and carry it all off effectively is a tribute to their emerging professionalism. The Disney adaptation is both funny and charming without being sentimental and this was communicated well by the young performers.

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David Simpatico’s clever adaptation allowed all of the thirty children on stage to have their moment and all of them had a confidence which allowed them to engage and entertain people. No child seemed conscious of the audience, despite it being full of friends and relatives and one waving (albeit discreetly) mum. It seems a little unfair to single out performances as this was a genuine team effort but mention must be made of Daniel Nascimento’s fabulous Caterpillar, fully in touch with his inner ‘fabulosity’; Jamie Brinsden’s consistently eccentric and very funny, stressed-out White Rabbit (some very nice, fluid dance moves there too), and the double act provided by Finn Bralow and Matilda Baker as the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

Singing, under the musical direction of Artemis Reed and Erika Gundesen was exemplary: lyrics clear, great pace, it never dragged. Numbers such as Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and The Unbirthday Song performed to such as level as to stay in your head afterwards (in a good way!)

Given that this is a review there must be some negatives? Two tiny ones only. It would have been perfect if, when changing sizes, a way could have been found for the ‘new size Alice’ to be sure the ‘old Alice’ was completely off stage before making her appearance – understandably difficult sometimes given the entrances. Children’s costumes are tricky too, the ones on show on Friday were imaginative and attractive – the Hatter’s hat with the cotton reels was great! It seemed a shame though for a couple of the cloaks/capes to have been safety pinned up. Tack them or cut them shorter?

Having sat through a lot of children’s performances in a previous life it’s quite something to be able to say that even though I was neither related to, nor friends with anybody in the cast on Friday I enjoyed and was thoroughly entertained by Dramacube’s performance of Alice in Wonderland. Well done everyone, round of applause I think!

Eleanor Lewis
March 2018

Photographs courtesy of Dramacube Productions

 

From → Musicals, Reviews

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