Indeed, the fine-tuned performers in this production could easily have been swiped from Manhattan, and audiences will immediately get hooked on the funny voices of the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit, portrayed respectively by Adam Mosebach and Tim Buckland.
Often, as well, the actors race around the theater as they break the fourth, fifth, and sixth walls by shaking hands with their fans, and even quickly chatting with them. Major props go to director Mark Adam Rampmeyer, who has his Alice (Pamela Macey) remain confused and in a frenzy throughout the intermission.
Rampmeyer also smartly chooses to poke fun at Lewis Carroll's use of idioms in the tea party scene. The Mad Hatter works furiously with a large pair of tongs to remove words from the 'tip of Alice's tongue.' The director also infuses pop music into the play, having Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Ally Antun and Ashleigh Kaufman) get down to "Peanut Butter Jelly Time." The fun continues when the Queen of Hearts and the rest of the crazy crowd at the trial chases the Cheshire Cat to the tune of "Can't Touch This."
This production, which is full of inventive and glamorous costumes, even takes a page from Shrek the Musical's book as it makes creative use of the vertically challenged Humpty Dumpty's costume and the multi-legged piece of the caterpillar. The intelligent visual tricks deftly introduce kids to the magic of theater, while affording their parents a few chuckles.
The show loses some steam by the end, with a slightly long trial scene and a somewhat weak finale, and the sets aren't up to the level of the rest of the show. However, by the time the Mad Hatter's second party ends to the tunes of "Everybody Dance Now" and "Shake Your Body," audiences will be doing exactly that.
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