Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I've just returned back from the concluding performance of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a ballet in two acts. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and composed by Joby Talbot, the production is actually a co-production between The Royal Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada. Fancy that.

It is the story we all know well and I'm sure it was daunting to bring Lewis Carroll's story to dance. Most of the first half was a bit clunky, wading through the real world and gearing up to really set down roots in Wonderland. The first moments in wonderland are a bit mired in special effects, a little more tweaking and I think the entire production could be brilliant. There are glimpses of full-fledged wonderland in the beginning moments which are enchanting and thrilling.

Some of the projection work was quite excellently done (shrinking and expanding Alice) while other bits (the aquatic segment) were not as well executed.

The production really starts to hit its stride with the caterpillar (Eric Underwood) onwards; Wheeldon harnesses the power and the beauty of a fuller cast of dancers in ingenious and playful ways.

The entire narrative builds up to the sensational, whimsical second half - lush with excellent visuals and seamless in its transitions. The Queen of Hearts (Zenaida Yanowsky) radiates with her supreme acting and dancing. Every bit of the second half is enchanting. Alice (Marianela Nunez) has incredible stamina, present and dancing for most of the show's almost two hours. The Mad Hatter (Steven McRae) introduces excellent tap to the ballet scene. Ensemble pieces are excellently choreographed and costumes brilliantly conceived.

A little cleanup of the first half and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland should be set to shine once it makes its North American premiere with The National Ballet of Canada in June in Toronto as part of the Luminato Festival.

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