Review Roundup: Rep PH Presents ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, his pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, wrote the novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in 1865. In this musical theater adaptation, "Alice in Wonderland," featuring book and lyrics by Jim Eiler and music by Jeanne Bargy, is simplified and made more child friendly.
Rep's "Alice in Wonderland," directed by Joy Virata, tells the story of young Alice, based on real-life person Alice Liddell, who follows the White Rabbit into a rabbit hole and ends up in the land down under filled with larger-than-life characters and out-of-the-box situations, including Alice turning into a giant; Alice trying to beat the Red Queen of Hearts at croquet and Alice figuring out the answer to the Mad Hatter's riddle.
The production stars Dani Gana and Chaye Mogg (Alice), Nacho Tambunting, Jim Ferrer and Reb Atadero ( White Rabbit), Liesl Batucan (Duchess), Bituin Escalante and Natalie Everett (Red Queen of Hearts), Becca Coates and Janine Tolentino (Storyteller/Flora), Rachel Coates and Marie Delgado (Storytelle/Dora), Oliver Usison and Kendrick Ibasco (Walrus/King of Hearts), Nic Campos and Joel Trinidad (French Mouse/Carpenter/Mad Hatter), Onyl Torres and James Stacey (Caterpillar/March Hare), Antonio Lane and Jay Pangilinan (Mock Turtle), Reymund Domingo and Khevin Almario (Duck/Kettle), Edward Briones (Lory/Baby), Dingdong Rosales (Lory/Baby/Tweedledum), Josh Ramirez and Chino Veguillas (Dodo/Tweedledee/Doormouse), Shalee Vicencio and Gold Soon (Moon / Court Member), Ina Salonga (Tears / Court Member), Kyla Rivera (Tears / Oyster/Door), Clark Francis dela Riva and Bobby Superales (Door/ Oyster) and Bym Buhain (Door /Tweedledum).Now let us hear what the critics had to say:
Rome Jorge, Rappler.com: When I watched the premiere of "Alice in Wonderland" last August 17, I was heartened to see that the theater was packed to the rafters. Even the step on the aisles had children and their guardians squeezing in to find a place for themselves.
Escalante and Batucan shone the brightest, effortlessly mesmerizing audiences with their powerful vocals. Their talents helped support Gana who held her own with Philippine theater's best. The refreshing origami-inspired stage design and costumes by (Raven) Ong and (Gino) Gonzales, respectively, were put in the best light flawlessly by (John) Batalla.
The greatest creative risk taken was that of integrating audience participation into the theater performance. Attempting to goad often shy Asian children to participate in a decidedly English story was met with mixed results, with children responding more emphatically to answering questions than to singing along. [Perhaps because the sing-alongs came first, it was only when the questions came along later that they had properly warmed up.]
Besides hinging the success of the performance on its young audiences, the use of audience participation broke the spell of suspended disbelief by shattering the "4th wall" and interrupted the flow of the story. Nonetheless, it still worked, albeit with mixed results.