The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

“Alice in the Wonderland: A British Panto”

Play impresses with unique direction

On Nov. 16 the City College theater featured “Alice in Wonderland: A British Panto,” a production that took the audience completely by surprise with its wonderful satire and absurdity, and hilarious dialogue. Director Luther Hanson and writer Christine Nicholson create a British panto production that is anything but an ordinary play.
The British panto style in “Alice in Wonderland” encourages audience-interaction either through clever scenes that require audience participation, or simply shouting out a command during key points of the play.

Nicholson’s “Alice in Wonderland” gives audience members a chance to view a new form of theater not widely practiced in the United States, all for the price of an admission ticket.
A little after 8 p.m. the auditorium lights dimmed down, fog poured out of an unseen chamber on stage and the show began with the most fabulous character —none other than the Dame herself.
The Dame—or Madame Loretta Fey played by Bradly Moates—was portrayed as a middle-aged man in drag, and costume director Nicole Sivell designed the Dame’s garb spectacularly well.
Dressed in a bright purple, polka-dot suit, bubble-gum pink hair with an enormously large flower perched on her head, the Dame started the show off by addressing the audience, and observed how they were gathered in the auditorium for the sake of a joke.

The Dame and the White Rabbit served as comic relief, delivering witty jokes and comical lines that caused the audience to crack up and shout rambunctious remarks for an encore.
Some scenes involved the Dame directly asking the audience for help against the tyranny of the Red Queen and her continuous threats to cut off the character’s heads. These requests sometimes involved the audience shouting out a particular line during key moment in the play, a warning or an activity where the Dame will ask for volunteers from the audience.

One skit that was particularly interesting to partake in came after the show’s 15-minute intermission. The activity here involved participation from everyone in the audience and happend when the Red Queen made her appearance on stage. The crowd was very rambunctious during interactive moments, and without giving away this pivotal scene, be warned that it’s something most will not have already experienced before in traditional American theater.

The production also depicted several familiar scenes such as Alice’s plunge down the rabbit hole and the tea party with the Mad Hatter. The play also introduced directionthe audience to new characters such as the Nutcracker Prince and Clarida from Disney’s “Brave” that all tie easily into the plot.
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Nicholson’s Tweedle Dee and Dum are known in this production as ‘Froghead Long Horn’ and ‘Beevis Carpehead and might be more familiar to some as the notorious MTV cartoon couple, “Beevis and Butthead.”

One thing about the production that clearly stood out were the actor’s performances.
The cast mirrored the storylines’ satire, such as the Mad Hatter’s quirky trademark jump and jittery movements, and the Red Queen throwing pepper into her wailing baby’s face whilst screaming, “more pepper!”

Although the production is a satirical parody of the original “Alice in Wonderland,” the script and songs also had moments where they appeared a bit too childish and cheerful considering that the play supposedly takes place in a strange, dark, wonderland, not a cheerful and cartoonish Disneyland. However, several scenes were set up so that the backdrop and the lighting created a very bright and inviting environment.

Alice, played by Ashley Olson, performed her part exceedingly well, delivering her lines with much enthusiasm and conviction— unlike the original version of Alice who was usually depicted as quite reserved and cautious.

Alice explained this difference not far into the play, remarking to the Nutcracker Prince that the original Alice was “much more annoying and witchy.”
With a last cheerful farewell song delivered by the entire cast, “Alice in Wonderland: A British Panto” concluded brilliantly, and over-the-top as expected. This unique play is a production that no one should miss.

“Alice in Wonderland: A British Panto” runs until Dec. 16. Friday and Saturday showings start at 8 p.m. with on Saturday showing on Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Sunday showings start at 2 p.m.
General admission is $15. Students, seniors, military, SARTA, ADA and children 6 and up are $12. Kids under 5 are free. Purchase tickets at the City Theater Box Office or at the City Theater website at

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