London Dance Review: ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND (The Royal Ballet)

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by Tony Frankel on November 22, 2013

in Extras,Film,Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

BALLET THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Royal Ballet’s first full-length story ballet since 1995, received mixed reviews but was nonetheless an audience-pleasing success when it premiered in 2011. It returned in Sarah Lamb and Edward Watson in The Royal Ballet production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, to music by Joby Talbot, with set and costume designs by Bob Crowley.all its glory this year and a performance from March, 2013 was beamed to more than 500 cinemas across the U.S. on Tuesday. The eruption of Bob Crowley’s riotously inventive sets and costumes, the explosion of Wheeldon’s imaginative choreography, and the burst of overall theatrical enchantment made for a thrilling event on the big screen. Critics noticed discrepancies between the technical elements and the actual dancing in the original outing, but now we have a camera to close in on the whimsical and accessible movement.

Scene from The Royal Ballet production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, to music by Joby Talbot, with set and costume designs by Bob Crowley.At first, I was dismayed that the camera rarely remained stationary; I wanted more long shots to establish the entire stage picture (there is often a lot going on with this ginormous cast); but then I realized that the humongous goings on would probably have overpowered some of the dancing, which is rich in whimsy. Plus, Joby Talbot’s exciting original score, one of the best I have ever heard for a modern story ballet, came in crystal clear in all of its stereophonic wonderment (the astoundingly fun orchestrations are by Talbot and Christopher Austin); under the leadership of conductor David Briskin, the Royal Opera House orchestra matched the virtuosity of the world’s best philharmonics.

Alice in Wonderland has always been problematic source material for both stage and cinema. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll) concocted what is basically a series of adventures with no arc. But the book’s Zenaida Yanowsky in The Royal Ballet production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, to music by Joby Talbot, with set and costume designs by Bob Crowley.adventures are so vivid and nonsensically imaginative and funny that it has and continues to appeal to anyone who wishes to unleash their imagination. What aids this ballet is a Wizard of Oz-like format in which a misunderstood adolescent girl imagines people from her life as fantastical characters in a dream world. At a Victorian idyllic country house, Alice is an adolescent who has a huge crush on the hot and affable young garden boy, Jack, but her mother, a prim and pompous woman, dismisses the lad from her estate. Everything from tarts to red roses is introduced—even Lewis Carroll is in the scene as an amateur photographer.

The dejected Alice (Sarah Lamb, atypical in a brunette bob) is soon prompted down the rabbit hole by a transformed Carroll, now the White Rabbit (Edward Watson). Her journey, everything from the “Eat Me” cakes to flamingo croquet mallets, leads Sarah Lamb and Federico Bonnelli in The Royal Ballet production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, to music by Joby Talbot, with set and costume designs by Bob Crowley.her to that hunky boy of her dreams who is now the Knave of Hearts (Federico Bonelli), whom Alice defends in the tart-stealing trial. The semi-narrative doesn’t completely take care of the fact that this is really just a sequence of events, but it does create a heart of the show: that diversions of fate seem to forever hinder true romance.

Besides, contextual issues are hardly relevant once Steven McRae starts tapping up a storm as the Mad Hatter, or when the exquisite Eric Underwood shows off ballet and modern movement in his undulating, exotic Caterpillar dance. The Cheshire Cat is now a giant sectional puppet that can turn into feline bits. The clear highlight was Zenaida Yanowsky as the volatile Queen of Hearts; in a hilarious parody of the famous Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty, four reluctant dance partners do their best to support the Queen’s wonky movement.

What dismayed was the paltry crowd at the AMC in Century City; the tickets were only $15 a shot at this location, which is clean and beautiful (the price may vary depending on where you attend). I shall tell you that the Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker is coming on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 at 7:00, also presented by NCM Fathom Events nationwide, so plan ahead and see why these screenings are more than the next best thing to being there.

photos © ROH / Johan Persson, 2013

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House
in collaboration with Arts Alliance Media
presented by NCM Fathom Events
reviewed on November 19, 2013
for future screenings, visit Fathom

{ 2 comments }

Ileana November 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Is there a DVD of this ballet?

Tony Frankel November 26, 2015 at 2:53 pm

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