Brian West & Lila Schaffner in Alice in Wonderland. Photo courtesy of Savage Rose.
Alice in Wonderland
By Lewis Carroll
Adapted and Directed by Kelly Moore
Reviewed by Janelle Renee Dunn
Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Janelle Renee Dunn. All rights reserved.
The imagination of a child can be big, wild, and a journey to amazing adventures. Sometimes as adults we can lose sight of that childlike perspective. However, in Savage Rose’s current production of Alice in Wonderland, director Kelly Moore challenges the audience to tap into their imagination for an enjoyable ride down the rabbit hole.
Using a minimalistic approach, Moore was clever in how to deliver on some of the bigger moments of the show. For example, in making Brian West’s Cheshire Cat disappear Moore (who also served as the Costume Designer) had West dressed in all black with magnetized pieces of fur attached. While the scene played out, additional ensemble members (Ava and Kora Duvall) took off the fur, leaving West with just a mask that appeared as a floating head. Another great effect was the use of shadows. Using a scrim with the outline of a house and the actor’s shadow illuminated from behind, Moore gives us the illusion that Alice (Lila Schaffner) has now grown too big to fit normally in a house.
The cast works really well as an ensemble, taking on multiple characters with a vast range. Perhaps the most memorable character was James Thompson as the Mad Hatter. His characterization truly captured the complete zaniness of the character. Other memorable characters were twins Ava and Kora Duvall as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Their chemistry playing off of each other brought a welcome energy to Act Two.
Jay Marie Padilla’s Queen of Hearts was lackluster. Although she started with a strong entrance, it became more and more difficult to understand her when she began to yell in her upper register.
Lila Schaffner’s Alice was commendable. Now, before I continue, let me state that I understand she is a middle school student. However, for one so young Schaffner also has a considerable amount of theatre work under her belt. Being Alice is no easy feat and she, for the most part, does an acceptable job with the role. Yet, there were many times I felt lost in what she was saying. There also was lacking a sense of curiosity or excitement of discovery as she ventured throughout this crazy world. For example, during her “Eat me / Drink me” scene, Schaffner seemed to be rattling off her lines.
Kelly Moore really lets her imagination take flight with directing Alice in Wonderland, making it a show worth seeing.
Featuring Neil Brewer, Meg Caudill, Ava Duvall, Kora Duvall, Helen Mariah Murdoch, Jay Marie Padilla, Lila Schaffner, Tom Schulz, James Thompson, Brain West and Carol Tyree Williams
Alice in Wonderland
Friday, May 12, 13, 15, 19, & 20 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 14, 20 & 21 @ 2:00 pm
Tickets can be purchased directly from our website! Select the ticket URL and we’ll save you a seat. General admission is $15; students are $10 with a valid student ID.
Savage Rose Classical Theatre
At The Baron’s Theater
131 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Janelle Renee Dunn, originally from Duncan, South Carolina, is an actor, singer and teaching artist. She has a MFA in Acting from the University of Louisville and a BA in Theatre (Directing) from Berea College. Before becoming the Performing Arts teacher at Chancey Elementary this school year, Janelle Renee taught drama workshops and drama clubs to students for three years. She also appeared in the title role of a local kid’s touring show, Kylie for President (Drama by George). Janelle Renee is also the Co-Artistic Director for Smoked Apple Theater Group. She recently made her professional directorial debut with SATG’s production of Oh Lord! Mamma Done Burnt the Biscuits. Acting credits include: Click, Clack, Moo (Stage One), ShowBoat (Kentucky Opera), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Bunbury Theatre), Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and Rocky Horror Show (Pandora Productions), Much Ado About Nothing and Becoming Mother’s (Looking for Lilith) and Doubt (Wayward Actors).