Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Washington International School Alice in Wonderland

By • Mar 16th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

We live in a time where stories like The Little Mermaid (where the protagonist commits suicide) and Cinderella (where the evil stepsisters cut off their toes and have their eyes eaten by birds) have been tailored for youthful audiences and transformed into Disney movies and extravagant stage adaptations. It is rare to see an adaptation of a classic tale that doesn’t explore a happy ending, but takes on a more eerie interpretation. With their production of Alice, Washington International School’s theatre department has not only ventured out of the box, but out of the G-Rating and into the rabbit hole with their edgy spin on the classic tale, Alice in Wonderland.

Alice is their drama teacher’s adaptation of a version of Alice in Wonderland developed by André Gregory and the Manhattan Project in 1972. This play explores not only Alice’s journey through Wonderland, but her journey through maturity and her loss of innocence. It also delves into the rumored taboo life of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) by making his relationship with Alice central to the plot.

Both the script and the staging of this show were far beyond the maturity and difficulty level of most high school productions. However, the students of Washington International School handled the production with elegance and produced a phenomenal, professional-quality performance. The actors and the technical elements created a whole new world for the audience and reminded them that theatre is indeed an art, a fact that is forgotten as theatre and pop culture are increasingly intertwined.

The show’s title character, Alice, was portrayed by Anna Bonato. Much like the rest of the show, Bonato created her own interpretation of the stereotypical, wide-eyed Alice. She maintained a high level of energy throughout the performance and was clearly understood and heard.

Although the Hatter (William Hoffman) and the Queen of Hearts (Emma Facer-Irwin) were standouts, this show was certainly an ensemble piece and the entire cast must be praised for their meticulous execution of lines and blocking. From popping out of the back of the theatre to taking Alice down the rabbit hole to performing in the Queen’s theatre, the cast not only had incredible chemistry, but completely immersed themselves into the world they created. Some individual actors did fall short of complete character understanding, but the overall ensemble work outweighed the miniscule shortcomings.

The technical elements of the show were also astonishing. The lighting, sets and sound anchored the performance and were of professional quality. There was a clear creative and artistic vision behind almost all of the perfectly executed technical choices.

According to the students, “Wonderland Bites.” They were certainly correct. Not only did they leave a mark, Washington International went above and beyond the typical high school show, resulting in an Alice that was “curiouser” than all the rest.

by Vanessa Bretas of McLean High School

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