From the moment the curtain rises you know you are in for a treat. Both children and adults alike can enjoy an entertaining afternoon or evening of dance with this spectacular production. It’s not so much a ballet rather a creative spectacle with plenty of stage craft to keep all ages on the edge of their seats with excitement.
Created in 2011 on The Royal Ballet Christopher Wheeldon, has played his trump card producing a blockbuster
dance show that will become the new Nutcracker the world over. Alice has already had international success with
companies from Germany to Australia performing this thrilling production. So what is the secret to Alice’s success? Wheeldon, ever the master choreographer, has played his cards right and brought together an ace team of artistically creative people. Under his watchful eye, Wheeldon has the genius of making sure that each of the creatives, costumes, sets, lighting, music, story and of course dance come together with their own brilliance to work collectively as a partnership in this production. In no particular order: Joby Talbot’s commissioned score is alive with flavour and caricature themes to match the characters and dance on stage; Bob Crowley’s designs are colourful and set
the scene with fairy tale splendour; Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington’s video projections are simply dazzling; Natasha Matz’s lighting design is cleverly done with just the right amount of light and shade and tones of colour to mesmerise the audience whilst keeping the action for all to see; and Nicholas Wright’s libretto keeps the story alive with twists and turns that Lewis Carroll would no doubt have added in Alice 2 if he lived in the modern world.
All this would not have happened without Wheeldon coming up with a master plan and executing it in fairy tale
proportions. Act 1 starts in Victorian Oxford at a garden party, but the action very quickly gets a whole lot more interesting when Jack, playing with Alice, is accused of stealing a jam tart and has to leave the party. Alice is upset but Lewis Carroll comes to the rescue and takes a photograph of Alice to console her. Jack goes under the camera cloth and to Alice’s surprise emerges as a White Rabbit. The first of many twists and turns, as they bound into a rabbit hole and mysteriously fall into Alice’s Wonderland! Perhaps a less known fact is that Lewis Carroll, the author of the book back in Victorian times, suffered from a rare neurological disorder that causes strange hallucinations and affects the size of visual objects, which can make the sufferer feel bigger or smaller than they are; a huge theme of the book and now Wheeldon’s dance production.
Alice is full of characters and Wheeldon cleverly choreographs with superb stage craft, dances and theatrical
drama for the likes of The White Rabbit, The Mad Hatter, The Knave of Hearts and The Queen of Hearts to name
a few! Originally created on Lauren Cuthbertson, the lead role of Alice was danced with innocence and assured
technique by Yuhui Choe. Matthew Ball danced The Knave of Hearts with lyrical smooth fluency and precision. Alexander Cambell danced The White Rabbit with zest and bounding leaps. The Mad Hatter danced by Calvin Richardson has all the hallmarks for the role but it was created on Steven McRae whose skills as a tap dancer, as well as a classical ballet dancer, are hard to match anywhere in the world especially in Alice’s World! Clare Calvert has the task of playing and dancing the role of The Queen of Hearts, originally created on Zenaida Zanowsky, which she did with confidence and humour.
It is 23 years since The Royal Ballet last decided to afford the luxury of investing in a full-length narrative ballet and a choreographer to deliver it. Christopher Wheeldon has created a box office hit that is being performed by a growing number of major dance companies the world over. The Royal Ballet is currently celebrating Kenneth MacMillan’s legacy marking the 25th anniversary of his death. Much revered for his creative genius, MacMillan will be remembered for centuries to come. Wheeldon is, like MacMillan, a choreographer whose work will be performed for many many decades to come and probably centuries too. Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a fairy tale dance production like no other!