Theater Review: LOOKINGGLASS ALICE (Lookingglass Theatre)

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by Stephen Best on May 11, 2022

in Theater-Chicago


After two Covid-19 delays, Lookingglass Alice is once again high-flying and adored at the Lookingglass Theatre, whose glorious and highly imaginative production has quickly become the hallmark of its artistic brand. Stunning, entertaining, empowering and compelling, this gem of a show is a feast for the eyes and a treat for the family. Blending elements from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass stories, the aerial artistry and strength of the performers is awe-inspiring. Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (The Actors Gymnasium’s artistic director) choreographs this circus-infused production with joyous stints on hoops, bungee cords, ropes and an extra-tall unicycle. Director/adaptor David Catlin ensures that this masterful 90-minute production is nothing but smooth sailing.

Adeoye, Kareem Bandealy, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, and Molly Hernández
Samuel Taylor

While this particular Alice is on her own journey to adulthood, she navigates a literal life-sized chessboard centerstage, only advancing forward after she comes in contact with, and more importantly learns a lesson from, a wide array of quirky characters. As the titular character, Lindsey Noel Whiting (alternating with Molly Hernández in the demanding role) is adept reciting lines while also backflipping — mid-air — over the captivated audience, personifying the requisite childhood innocence necessary for the character while demonstrating powerful acts of adult physical strength. You will marvel at her sheer power.

Adeoye and Michel Rodriguez Cintra

Just as astute and athletically capable are the male counterparts. As the Cheshire Cat, actor Adeoye climbs, jumps, flips and plunges across the entire two story stage with ease, utilizing only his strong arms as his safeguard. His broad, mischievous, toothy grin is equal parts devilish and playful. Michel Rodriguez Cintra is a charming, frantic and frenetic White Rabbit. The real scene stealer is Kareen Bandealy as the larger than life Red Queen. The two-story tall crimson outfit made for quite the visual as the imposing imperial chewed all of the surrounding scenery with aplomb. Rounding out the cast, Samuel Taylor brings comedic confidence to his roles as the whimsical White Knight and author and narrator Dodgson. Adeoye, Bandealy and Cintra also double as the familiar characters, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Humpty Dumpty, the Caterpillar and the White Queen, all with hilarious results.

Kareem Bandealy as Red Queen

The designers also have a blast. Mara Blumenfeld’s rainbow-bright and winsome costumes impress in their array of inventiveness. Daniel S. Ostling’s set design, from an endless onslaught of flying chairs to a giant ball of yarn, is unending imagination on steroids. Christine A. Binder’s lighting adds drama and ambiance as well as the starkly lit literal squares of the life-sized chessboard, on which Alice is an unwitting pawn. This highly artistic journey through the looking glass is a thoroughly absorbing quest which titillates all the senses.

Michel Rodriguez Cintra and Molly Hernández
Adeoye, Kareem Bandealy, Molly Hernández, and Michel Rodriguez Cintra

A proven delight for all, Lookingglass Alice is back, as bold, unique, stunning and delightful as ever. This wild ride, with a solid female protagonist, will inspire, empower and embolden. My recommendation is to journey through the rabbit hole as often as you can. Not exclusively for children, maybe more for the child at heart, this exciting ride keeps getting better with age. Now in its fifth incarnation in twenty years, this Alice is the stick by which all other Lookingglass productions are measured. It’s no surprise this venue even took its name from the imaginative tale. With Broadway in Chicago currently mounting a jaw-droppingly fantastic production of Six The Musical and the Lookingglass remounting its fabulous Alice, the Windy City stages are set for a summer of girl power. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Lindsey Noel Whiting as Alice

photos by Liz Lauren

Kareem Bandealy, Adeoye, and Michel Rodriguez Cintra

Lookingglass Alice
Lookingglass Theatre Company
in association with The Actors Gymnasium
Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave.
ends on July 31, 2022
for tickets, call 312.337.0665 or visit Lookingglass

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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