This evening I had a truly delightful experience at the Youth Group production of Alice in Wonderland. I was transported to a magical, fun and colourful world of nonsense by a group of talented, enthusiastic and dedicated performers who were clearly enjoying every minute of being on stage. I particularly enjoyed the identity crisis of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (Zoe Giles and Mischa Booyse), the camp terpsichorean antics of the Caterpillar (James Brodie) and the firebrand Queen of Hearts (Ruby Dye). But every single cast member was at the top of their game – whether in consistent characterisation, tuneful and strong singing or confident dancing – and made this a show to remember. It was a pleasure to see the sheer enjoyment on their faces as they performed the final song.
While the kids were great, I want to highlight the real stars of this production – and the Youth Group as a whole: the organising team. It was evident how much effort had gone into drilling the kids in their dances, acting and singing – and not only did this result in great performances, it gave the kids the confidence to go out and do it all with gusto and to cope when things didn’t go quite to plan with the recorded music and sound. It cannot be easy to maintain enthusiasm and performance standards throughout the extended period of weekly rehearsals.
Then of course there are the technical team who contribute so much through lighting, sound, a colourful set and costumes, and the backstage wrangling of set and actors. What made a particular impression on me for this production was the attention to detail front of house, from the dressing of the entrance and auditorium to the costumes of the front of house team – all themed to suit the production. I didn’t experience the tea, but I heard it was a great success. A lot of work went into this and it paid dividends in creating a positive, upbeat vibe even before the curtain went up. (Not to mention the pink gin on optics in the bar!)
Because this is meant to be a critical review of the show, I feel I ought to try and be critical – which is actually very difficult. My only comments are that I felt the kids could have been given more variety in things to do during the overture – it became a little repetitive. Perhaps more of the cast could have been out in the audience interacting with us, as that worked well at other points in the show. And why was the White Rabbit dressed in black? Not that this detracted from her performance in any way!
Having said that, I want to congratulate Naomi and her team for such a joyous theatrical experience. I’m already looking forward to the next one!