By Heidi Sutton
Every five years or so, Theatre Three reaches deep into its vault of scripts and pulls out a gem. This time it’s Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland, an original musical based on the colorful characters sprung from Lewis Carroll’s imagination for his 1865 much-loved children’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass in 1871. The show opened on Aug. 4 to a packed house.
With the message to be true to yourself and to find your own voice, this year’s production, written by Jeffrey Sanzel, features a brand new score by Douglas J. Quattrock, exquisite costumes by Jason Allyn and a cast of over 35 actors who seamlessly play multiple roles.
Directed by Sanzel, the show opens on a rainy day at Camp Carroll Woods. The campers are bored and the camp counselor tries to keep them entertained indoors with a sing-along. A white rabbit suddenly appears but only one of the campers, Alice (Jillian Sharpe), can see him. In a curious pursuit, she tumbles down a rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland where her “unusual adventure” begins.
With The Cheshire Cat (Kiernan Urso) always in the shadows, a strong-willed Alice must match wits with a list of bizarre characters as she takes part in a “What’s My Name?” contest with The Caterpillar (Heather Rose Kuhn); joins a tea party with The Mad Hatter (Steven Uihlein), The March Hare (Kaitlyn Jehle) and The Dormouse (Hazel Kamath); catches a ride with The White Knight (Liam Marsigliano); meets Tweedledee (Kaitlyn Jehle) and Tweedledum (Heather Rose Kuhn); and is invited to a game of croquet by The Queen of Hearts (Ginger Dalton), all while trying to catch up with The White Rabbit (Ava Garcia) and find her way home. When the kingdom’s tarts go missing, Alice is accused of stealing and must stand trial. Will she find her voice in time?
Of course, a show like this would not be possible without the supporting cast — members of Theatre Three’s summer acting workshops play numerous roles including campers, contestants in a game show, flowers and a deck of playing cards.
The music and dance numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are terrific, especially “Here” with Alice and The Cheshire Cat; “Tea!” by the Mad Hatter, “Song of a Very Sad Knight” by The White Knight; “A Question of Belief” by Alice, and “Let the Good Times Roll” by The Queen of Hearts (“Nothing cheers me up like a good clean chop!”)
Full of whimsy and loaded with riddles, the play is a lot of nonsense, as Alice would say, but it sure is fun to watch as it gives a fresh feel to the story of the adventurous little girl following that dutifully late white rabbit through a maze of imaginative vignettes. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for a keepsake photo.
Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland on Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. and Aug. 12 at 11 a.m and again at 2 p.m. Children’s theater continues with A Kooky Spooky Halloween from Oct. 7 to 21 and the holiday classic Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 18 to Dec. 30. All seats are $12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.