Brandon Brooks and Autumn Ness.
Photo by Dan Norman
You usually know what you're going to get with a production of Alice in Wonderland: a young girl, a late rabbit, and lots of imagery that would fit in well on a Syd-Barrett-era Pink Floyd album.
The Children's Theatre Company's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass has all that, along with a driving visual style that brings the madcap magic of the book to full life on the stage.
As Alice descends deeper and deeper into her adventure, there is a sense of one-upmanship from the cast and designers. You thought the Cheshire Cat, complete with massive puppet paws and tail, was impressive? Wait until you see Tweedledee and Tweedledum, literally rolling around the stage in inflated costumes.
The madness reaches its high point with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare scene. It helps to have Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund playing the parts. The two actors not only bring great personal acting gifts to the stage, but their on-stage chemistry is second to none. Here, they have mastered making intensely difficult and precisely choreographed mayhem look like it is happening at the spur of the moment.
The show does take a breath on occasion. The White Knight (Sigmund again) brings a bit of gravity to the proceedings. His reading of "Jabberwocky" brings back the storm and thunder, complete with an appearance by the dreaded monster itself. There are also other, more subtle references to the original story, such as the company singing "Row, Row Row Your Boat" in several sequences. Carroll originally conceived of the story while on a boat with three young girls (including one named Alice).
By the time the Queen of Hearts' croquet party shows up, the whimsy has gotten a bit taxing, but the final summing up happens quickly, with Alice finally finding her way out of her dream.
The whole company does fine work, starting with young Anna Evans as the inquisitive Alice, who always keeps her head even when it is on the chop. Familiar CTC faces like Mo Perry, Autumn Ness, Gerald Drake, Jason Ballweber, and Brandon Brooks (as the harried White Rabbit) work well with an ensemble of younger performers for a jolly time in Wonderland.
IF YOU GO:
Alice in Wonderland
Through June 15
Children's Theatre Company
2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis
For information and tickets, call 612.874.0400 or visit online.