Alice in Wonderland | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

Alice in Wonderland



Alice In Wonderland, SummerNITE, at the Theatre Building. The world's most enduring drug dream-children's tale is played out with agility and remarkable energy by SummerNITE's cast of seven. Christopher Markle's adaptation, commissioned by New York's Lincoln Center, remains faithful to Lewis Carroll's story and dialogue, thankfully maintaining the dark edge Disney diluted. On a black stage bare except for a row of modular red-lacquered platforms on wheels, against a backdrop of Magritte-style clouds, Alice (Elizabeth Hayden), Dodgson (Kris Allen), and Professors 1, 2, 3, and 4 (Noe McDonald, Dan Kuhlman, Mickey Tuman, and John Hoogenaker--who gets points for keeping a straight face while jumping up and down screaming "Eat me! Eat me!") twirl and somersault through Carroll's tunnels and forests while nimbly morphing into the Mouse, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Tweedles Dum and Dee, the Queen, et al.

To accomplish this much using body language and a few simple props is a marvel. However, the hardworking cast deserves more design help. The stark red and black set doesn't suit Carroll's multicolored imagery, and sound bounces off the walls of this cavernous concrete space: whenever more than one person is speaking (which is often), the resulting clamor is jarring and incomprehensible. Fine-tuning the design elements and the execution of Leslie Steinweiss's original music (currently plagued with wobbles and pitch problems) would make this an exceptional adventure.

--Kim Wilson

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →