ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
September 12, 2014
Visually stunning, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is Bob Crowley and Christopher Wheeldon’s Downton Abbey ballet on hallucinogenics. Set in the Victorian country-side outside a stone manor, the family prepares for a summer supper when the young daughter falls asleep and slips down a rabbit hole to a land of unmatched adventures.
Luscious period costumes capture the summery elegance while fanciful fairytale outfits shimmer against the outsized scenic designs, and puppetry by the Tony Award winning Bob Crowley.
An utterly charming Sonia Rodriguez (Alice) is equally comfortable as the cheery young lady and stressed damsel. Her partner, Nayoe Ebe as Jack/The Knave of Hearts proves an excellent partner and technically smooth dancer. Robert Stephen (Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit), the droll Rex Harrington (Father/The King of Hearts), tap-dancing dandy Jack Bertinshaw (Magician/The Mad Hatter) Jonathan Renna (The Duchess), Harrison James (Rajah/The Caterpillar) and Stephanie Hutchison (The Cook) amiably fill out the supporting roles.
But the comedic standout, reed thin Svetlana Lunkina decked in red (wearing what resembles Mother Ginger’s outsized hoop skirt in The Nutcracker) magnificently flails against anyone who crosses her red path. A natural, Ms. Lunkina digs her teeth into the scenery, and exerts a farcical ferociousness in her curdled facial expressions and physical outrage at the upstarts in her kingdom.
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon dives into literary complexity that gets lost in the larger, choreographic strokes. Fully capable of devising choreography establishing all the quirky characters, he accents the typical ballet choreography with a little music hall tap dancing, tipsy vaudeville antics and cartoonish jabs.
The National ballet of Canada’s David Briskin adroitly conducts the serviceable score by Joby Talbot. However, some judicious editing would benefit the close to three-hour production—indeed, a two-hour production could even imagine a stop on Broadway.
This massive undertaking at the David H. Koch Theater was presented by the Joyce Theater and featured The National Ballet of Canada under the artistic direction of former principal ballerina, Karen Kain.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis