The New School of Northern Virginia WonderlandBy Cappies • Mar 8th, 2011 • Category: Cappies
Objects whirl about chaotically as a young girl plummets down a rabbit hole, only to fall headfirst into the terrifying, colorful, completely mad world of Wonderland. The New School of Northern Virginia’s production of Wonderland isn’t the same as your favorite childhood tale, however. This absurdist adaptation of the classic children’s tale was a completely unique take on the popular story.
Wonderland is based off of Lewis Carroll’s classic novels, “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” adapted by the theatre director at The New School of Northern Virginia. “Alice in Wonderland” is often adapted for both stage and film and has been made into a popular Disney musical motion picture, as well as the darker 2010 film directed by Tim Burton. It is a popular choice for schools, with its large ensemble cast and endless opportunities for creativity. In the New School of Northern Virginia’s production, we follow Alice down the rabbit hole and into a wonderland which encompasses all of the beloved and classic elements of Alice’s story, as well as some original touches.
The New School’s technical crew made the ambitious leap of staging Wonderland in an intimate black box theatre, in which the actors were mere feet from the audience. The creation of the special effects and scene transitions in this wonderland were facilitated by images of Alice changing sizes, setting backdrops, and the original text, projected in black and white onto a stark white backdrop.
The costume crew adapted to an ensemble cast (which required countless costume changes) by dressing the ensemble in plain black attire and adding colorful touches like gloves, feather boas, and colorful hats which could easily be discarded and changed. The cast was transformed with pale white skin and bold geometric makeup looks that easily suggested multiple characters and were appropriate for the intimate setting. Impeccably neat and universally intriguing, the makeup flowed seamlessly with the eerie mood of Wonderland.
Claire Quin portrayed a new version of the Alice Liddell that we all know and love. Her excellent memorization and stage presence drew attention. The energetic Brian Kraemer portrayed a believably nervous and clever White Rabbit. His nervous mannerisms and consistently high energy made him entertaining and fun to watch. Chris Diaz stood out as the hilarious and bumbling Tweedle Dee and the indignant knave on trial. His energy and strong character choices set him apart from the other ensemble members. The energy and chemistry between Diaz and Julia Bianchetta, who played Tweedle Dum, contributed to one of the strongest scenes in the production.
An ensemble of wonderland characters attempted the absurdist style of theatre, suggesting settings and effects that could not be accomplished in the small black box theatre through physical movements. They created an ocean of tears, a caucus race, and a flamingo croquet game through interpretive dance and creative movement; however, there appeared to be an overarching lack of energy amongst ensemble members. One of the most interesting moments of the night was the swirling movement of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, as objects whirled around her, propelled by the ensemble.
Although some actors had diction issues, the chemistry amongst ensemble members allowed for an excellent show. The New School of Northern Virginia executed definitive and ambitiously stylistic theatre, in a completely unique production of Wonderland.
by Siena Richardson of McLean
Photos by John Potter
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