Reviewed by Lesley Reed
Curiouser and curiouser… how did Adelaide Youth Theatre mount such a disciplined, delightfully different production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland with just 7 full days of rehearsals?
Ably directed by Tori Handley, together with Serena Martino-Williams’ fine musical direction, the assured performances of the 7-13-year-old ‘Diamond’ junior cast captivated the opening night capacity audience. The alternative ‘Hearts’ cast is no doubt equally talented.
As Alice, Tanisha Kirk-Demetri sung beautifully and has genuine star quality. Nathan Stafford was a scene stealer with his charismatic and cocky take on Caterpillar. Elisabeth Anderson and Amelia Sanzo were delightful as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Bella Baggio, Eliza Waterhouse and Mimi Stanbury had great comic timing as the disconnected parts of the Cheshire Cat. Jayden Prelc was a fine White Rabbit, while Paige Dobie, Montana Vincent, Hannah Heading and India Lumbers sparkled as a sassy group of flowers. Jacob Maiolo, Onor Nottle, Kieley Donhardt and Rory Adams produced terrific characterisation in their respective roles of Mad Hatter, March Hare, Doormouse and DoDo Bird. Lucy Grear was great as the Queen of Hearts, contrasting well against the sweet King, played by Richard Mayfield. Isabella Darwent, Holly Fennell, Ethimia Koutsouridis and Rhys Vaudin also shone in their featured roles. The ensemble of additional young performers was disciplined and energetic as the cast effortlessly sung its way through fourteen musical numbers.
Technically the production was very good, despite some sound issues. The simple set’s constantly changing projected background skilfully designated the many secret places of Wonderland. Alexandra Cornish’s choreography was innovative and costumes and makeup were excellent.
The production’s Director, Musical Director and Choreographer are youngsters themselves, all members of its senior cast. Such is Adelaide Youth Theatre’s amazing depth of talent.