Freshman play offers a musical twist on classic Alice in Wonderland



The set helped to immerse the audience into the strange and peculiar Looking-Glass Land. Pictured here from left to right is the White Queen (Eden Tradesman), the Red Queen (Valentia Burlak), Alice (Maya Shavit) and the Queen of Hearts (Mila Stojanov).

“Off with her head! Off with her head!” chants the Queen of Hearts, played by freshman Mila Stojanov. The line, repeated throughout the freshman play, built suspense in the bizarre and absurd world of Alice in Wonderland.

Truly standing the test of time, Alice in Wonderland is the classic tale of a young girl who falls into a rabbit hole while reading her book. The story follows her adventures in this fantasyland as she changes size, solves riddles, meets a variety of hilarious and peculiar creatures and nearly loses her head. Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel about a young girl’s adventure in a world that defies all rules has since been made into multiple films, plays and musicals, and this year’s freshman play did not fail to offer its own unique spin.

The singing, rapping, dancing and rhythm of the innovative production showcased director and drama teacher Elena Maimonis’ musical talents, as well as those of the cast.

Alice’s tumble down the rabbit hole into Looking-Glass Land was the first of many bemusing moments that included dance and music. In this moment, the audience was immersed in the show through dancing and ominous music that played as cast members waltzed around Alice as she fell down the rabbit hole. The waltzing added to a realistic, almost 3D experience that whirled the audience into the world.

Freshmen Maggie Coffey-O’Reilly, Maya Pontes and Sophie Dole as the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.

The three caterpillars, played by freshmen Maggie Coffey-O’Reilly, Maya Pontes and Sophie Dole, added to the spectacle. The characters spoke in unison and verse, making everything they said entertaining as well as tying their characters together. With matching black outfits, blue sheets and synced voices, they looked like one unit. Yet the true delight of their performance was their rapping, which added to the lack of sense in this new world. This was completely different than any other take on Alice In Wonderland, as it incorporated a modern twist on this classic tale.

Overall, what really made the performance was the actors’ commitment to their roles and the show as a whole. They spoke clearly and loudly and really left everything out on stage in the best possible way. The freshmen took risks with their characters through their use of accents and fun physicality. Specifically noteworthy were Stojanov’s British accent for the Queen of Hearts and Yael Sheffer’s spastic movement as the Mad Hatter.

A stand-out was Shavit’s performance as Alice. She had a challenging role in the sense that she spends the entire play onstage, constantly interacting with the bizarre and ever-unexpected world around her. She maintained focus and stayed in character throughout the show, never slipping up or losing sight of her character’s role in the world. Shavit did an excellent job portraying her character’s confusion at the world in which she has been quite literally dropped into, as well as embodying Alice’s ever slightly frazzled nature in this new place where everything seemed to defy logic.

On Maimonis’ part, the casting was done quite well all around, with freshman Zachary Blanding perfectly embodying the nervous and anxious role of the White Rabbit. Equally as talented was Raiya Khan, who played the Door Mouse. In stark contrast with Blanding, Khan was perfect as the lazy and disinterested mouse, with hilariously sporadic outbursts as she was continuously interrupted while telling a story.

The show also included a plethora of spectacular moments in which specific characters had the opportunity to stand out, from Sheffer’s Mad Hatter tabletop speech to freshman Benjamin Tytell’s comically gloomy Mock Turtle.

Our only critiques of the show were technical. Every transition was done in a blackout, where all lighting went out, and in general, each took just a bit long. Additionally, there seemed to be some issues with the lighting of the stage. Whether this was on the actors for struggling to find their light or on the lighting design to begin with, there were definitely a few moments where it would’ve been nice to see some characters more clearly illuminated.

These downsides, however, were diminished by the amazing music from the Disney musical version of Alice in Wonderland that played during the transitions.

Alice in Wonderland offers a bright, goofy, comedic and oh-so-entertaining glimpse at what it means to suddenly find yourself in a world where nothing makes sense. Go see it in the Black Box Theater at 7:30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a good laugh and a heartwarming experience.