Review: ‘Lost in Wonderland’ at Pallas Theatre Collective

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 ‘Lost in Wonderland’: Journeys Through an Author’s Imagination

Have you ever wanted to ask a famous, classic author, say a Mark Twain or an Edgar Allen Poe how and why they shaped their characters the way they did? The characters in classic author Lewis Carroll’s (aka Charles Dodgson) Alice in Wonderland get to do just that in Lost in Wonderland, a musical workshop production by Composer\Lyricist Andrew Morrissey and Librettist Ingrid De Sanctis. Directed by Tracey Elaine Chessum and sharply choreographed by Christopher Martin, Lost in Wonderland, is an enthralling, cozy, accessible musical for children and families.

The cast of 'Lost in Wonderland.' Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.
The cast of ‘Lost in Wonderland.’ Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.

The musical places Carroll (Benjamin Stoll) on the other side of the “looking glass” and into the world he created, pitting him against characters who are unhappy with how they are written. The musical starts with an argument between Carroll and Young Alice, the real life “Alice,” Alice Liddell, (Lillie Jewell) about the book he is writing for her, the book that will become Alice in Wonderland. Young Alice doesn’t like the draft she has read, exclaiming that it is all “nonsense.”

The songs come along at a brisk pace, but retain a good quality throughout. First we hear “Life Is But A Dream” by Young Alice and Carroll, then the energizing “Dancing to Wonderland” sang by Carroll, the Mad Hatter (the wonderful Will Hawkins), the Cheshire Cat (the always outstanding Zach Brewster-Geisz), adult Alice (the marvelous Caroline Brent), Queen of Hearts (the scene-dominating Christine Callsen), and White Rabbit (Megan Bunn) .

Jasmine LaChaé Mays, Ashley K. Nicholas, and Sidney Davis (dressed stage-hand-like in black and each carrying a caterpillar prop on their shoulder) collectively play the Caterpillar and sing “Who Are You?” along with Carroll and Alice. From there we hear the superb, and very jazzy “Feline Way Of Life” by Brewster-Geisz, the Cheshire Cat, who along the way leaves verbal gems such as “Cats scratch, but they are kinder than girls”, and “We pounce when necessary!” Credit goes to Costume Designer Brian J. Shaw for the Cheshire Cat’s nifty bowler hat, feline ears and paws.

Strong harmonies lift “Mad Tea Party,” featuring the Mad Hatter, March Hare (Erin Granfield), and White Rabbit, Alice, and Carroll. We see more needling from the characters of Carroll: “Have you noticed that you are mad?” asks the Cheshire Cat.

A delightful aria by the commanding, cape-wearing Christopher Michael Richardson carry “I Am A Prince”, who’s character raises the possibility of Carroll adding a Prince to Alice in Wonderland.  Young Alice sings an emotionally strong aria in “All Alone”, sang with Carroll, and “Off With Your Head” bathes the audience’s ears with the Queen of Hearts’ sultry aria and enticement  (“Can I call you ‘Chuck’?”) of Carroll to write her character the way she prefers—or else!

Meanwhile, the comical Tweedle Dee (Darren Marquardt) can find neither the end of a sentence when he speaks, or his brother Tweedle Dum (also played by Marquardt). Then we hear the Cards’ (Mays, Nicholas, and Sidney) “The Card Shuffle” and Carroll’s stand-out aria  “An Open Canvas, in which he revels in his creative potential to write stories of his choosing

“Wonders Unfold” by Alice, Carroll and Young Alice, “My Wonderland” by the Ensemble and “I Wrote It For You” by Carroll and the Ensemble bring the musical to a powerful apex of musical merriment.

Lillie Jewell as Young Alice and Christopher Michael Richardson as the Prince are stars in the making. I loved the smooth, 88-key-tickling of Music Director\Piano Player Amy Conley.

Lost in Wonderland is a unique, irreverent look inside the head of a great writer, and it’s so well-sung and acted. This wonderful musical has a great future, and I will be thrilled to always say, “I was there when…”

Don’t “be late” and miss the all “important date” to see it.

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

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Lost in Wonderland plays through June 19, 2016 at Pallas Theatre Collective performing at the Caos on F- 923 F St. NW, Washington, DC. For tickets, call (301) 909-8497, or purchase them online.