Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

State Theatre, The Arts Centre Melbourne

The Australian Ballet Company

Arts Centre Melbourne
15 Mar – 26 Mar
More Info

If you’ve ever dreamed as a child of adventuring into the magic of wonderland, falling into a picturesque imaginative landscape full of hopes and fantastic expectation – this is a must see show for you!  

There was an air of electricity on opening night at Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Walking across the red carpet at The Arts Centre Melbourne, the crowd were dressed in Alice’s blue, in the Red Queen’s reds, and there were hatters and all sorts of critters scattered amongst us.  There was a flurry of excitement, the anticipation of possibilities and an air of sophistication brought only by the prestige that The Australian Ballet Company holds. 

Adults and children sat at the edge of the seat as this three act show performed wonders.  Looking at the faces in the audience all eyes were wide and in absolute awe of the entertainment.  The smiles were grand, the laughter whole hearted with delight, and as the story unfolded each scene was stunning and spectacular.

We open at the Lidell Family’s garden party where Lewis Caroll is reading a story to three young sisters, one of whom is called Alice.  Friends with the gardener boy, Alice gives him a jam tart but her mother accuses him of stealing it and he is dismissed from the household.  Whilst this takes place other interesting guests arrive, and upset Alice is consoled by Lewis Carroll who suddenly grows a tail!  When he disappears into a giant plate of wobbly jelly, Alice quickly follows him into a world of the unknown where Jack the Knave of Hearts has been accused of stealing a whole tray of tarts by the angry Queen of Hearts who sends her deck of card guards to capture him.  Trying to make her way around this new land, Alice finds a drink that makes her shrink, a cake that makes her grow, and a lake of her own tears to swim in with a whole gaggle of crazy creatures. All in fun she arranges a race and sets off the starting gun with a bang.  Startled by the noise, the characters tottle away but as we know only too well with Alice and her adventures – this just means she’s about to encounter something new.  Finding herself suddenly swept up in a dance by a sparkly fish and a fabulous frog, Alice then bumps into a duchess with a baby, a frantic cook making pigs into sausages, and the sudden appearance of the mysterious Cheshire Cat.  Trying to keep her out of harms way, the White Rabbit and Knave blindfold Alice to stop her from following them into any danger and the curtain closes for the most exciting Act 1.

We have all asked the question of who we are from time to time, and we all wonder at some stage in our life where we are and what is to come.  So as Alice becomes curiouser and curiouser in Act 2, she stumbles into the Mad Hatter who is holding his famous tea party. She befriends the Dormouse and March Hare, has a spot of tea and then wanderers off into the most exotic of caterpillars.  After eating a piece of his enchanting mushroom, Alice then discovers a beautiful garden full of flaunting flowers that lead her to her beloved Knave. They escape together just in time as the executioner’s axe slices down.

In Act 3, we find the queen’s gardeners painting the roses red and the great croquet game begins. With flamingos in hand and nervous hedgehogs ready, the Queen and Duchess commence play. The Knave is then captured and brought to a court for ruling and Alice and all of her new found friends come to plead his innocence. Unmoved, the Queen of Hearts takes the axe into her own hands and the final chase begins. In haste, Alice pushes over one of the card guards and the deck all fall down! Within this chaos then, Alice wakes up only to find that she was dreaming all along.

With absolutely stunning costumes and an immaculate set, this production truly does wonders to bring your imagination to life on stage.  The use of digital effects add a magic that is mesmerising. There is a heightened element of fantasy in the choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, and it makes every moment memorable. The dancers bring beauty and emotion to every movement allowing this production to float in a class above all others. There is a grace that they leave in the air, led by beautifully talented Alice (Benedicte Bemet) and her stunningly brilliant Knave (Joseph Caley).

The orchestra is phenomenal, led by music director Johnathan Lo who gives precision and grandeur. The music itself allows for the greatest of stories.

Highlights of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland include every moment the Queen of Hearts (Robyn Hendricks) graced the stage in all her glamour and glory, the exciting energy of the White Rabbit (Chengwu Guo), the special effects in Alice’s shrinking and growing, particularly the well thought out use of the box room. This also appeared to transform into a screen that Alice could climb into as the room filled with her tears. The caterpillar (Nathan Brook) and all of his sparkly legs was a fabulous feature, as was the incredible puppetry, dance and movement of the elusive Cheshire Cat team. The snappy tap routines of the Mad Hatter (George Murray-Nightingale) were definitely a crowd favourite, as was the moment the King of Hearts (Steven Heathcote) appeared stepping out of his wife’s dress, and the little appearances from all of the gorgeous hedgehogs.

A classic story that is a family favourite, this production is the most immaculate childhood dream come true.

Wendy Samantha

Wendy Samantha

Wendy Samantha is a writer and director and runs her own performing arts school. She has worked on many shows and musicals and is head of primary music at a prestigious Melbourne private school.
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