“Amazing”…”Magical”…”Sensational” are just some of the ways audiences described Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when it swept through Melbourne and Sydney in 2017.
This sell-out hit is the biggest production undertaken by The Australian Ballet. 350+ costumes, 27 sets changes, a tap dancing mad hatter, an eerily disembodied Cheshire Cat manipulated by puppeteers, a slinky Caterpillar with 16 feet in bejewelled pointe shoes and dancing playing cards are all included in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
With all the action on stage enhanced by the most impressive optical illusions, immersive digital projections, the audience will feel as if they are falling down the rabbit hole with Alice into Wonderland. Created for The Royal Ballet in 2011, this production has enraptured audiences around the world. Wheeldon’s ballet is full of all the wit and charm of the original story by Lewis Carroll, as it follows Alice into a topsy-turvy world where nothing is quite as it seems.
Vibrant sets and costumes by the Tony Award-winning designer Bob Crowley create a vision of a topsy-turvy Wonderland through puppetry, optical illusion, immersive digital projections, intricately detailed costumes and wild wigs. The cinematic score by Joby Talbot combines ballet melodies with theatrical flourishes like ticking clocks and the purring of the Cheshire Cat, and weaves around the action onstage as if springing from the mind of Alice herself.
The Australian Ballet’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland won the Helpmann Award for Best Ballet in 2018, and was nominated in five other categories, including Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design and Best Male and Female Dancer. With its action-packed storyline, dancing in the aisles and petals falling from the roof, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a theatre experience not to be missed.
During a garden party at her family home, Alice enjoys the company of her crush, Jack, and the amusements of a family friend, Lewis Carroll. Her day takes a curious turn when Lewis transforms into a White Rabbit, and she tumbles down the rabbit hole after him. Alice finds herself in a world of wonder, as she embarks on a series of absurd, hilarious and at times frightening adventures. Jack has become the Knave of Hearts, relentlessly persecuted by the bad-tempered Queen of Hearts.
Alice finds a magic cake which turns her into a giant. She swims in a lake of her own tears. She encounters a mysterious Cheshire Cat, and then a bizarre tea party presided over by a Mad Hatter. She meets a mesmerising Caterpillar perched on a mushroom, and then, at last, is reunited briefly with the Knave in a magical garden. The tyrannical Queen of Hearts is torturing her subjects with dance demonstrations and a strange game of croquet, all the while blithely ordering the executions of those who displease her.
The Knave is finally discovered and brought to trial, and mayhem ensues. Alice comes to the Knave’s defense and together they deliver a testimony that wins the hearts of all but the Queen. When Alice attempts to flee, the whole court comes crashing down around her. But the very next minute, Alice awakes.
Conductor: Simon Thew Featuring: Artists of The Australian Ballet, Orchestra Victoria Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon Music: Joby Talbot Orchestrations: Christopher Austin and Joby Talbot Scenario: Nicholas Wright Set and Costume Design: Bob Crowley Lighting Design: Natasha Katz Projections: Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington Puppet Concept and Design: Toby Olié
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 8 – 22 June 2019
Information and Bookings: www.australianballet.com.au
Image: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – photo by Kate Longley