Alice in Wonderland at ABET

Alice in Wonderland, A Fantasy with Music, is in production at All Beaches Experimental Theatre through May 26. This creative, magical production is a delight and a must-see show for all ages.

The beloved classic by Lewis Carroll has been whimsically adapted by Dave Alan Thomas with a lively ensemble telling the story in the style of an old-time seaside music hall. The story stays fairly true to the novel but features so much more. Thomas’ lyrics and A.J. Neaher’s music, which introduce each chapter, adds richness to the show. Kelby Siddons’ skillful direction allows this entertaining story of child-like wonder and the absurdity of the adult world flow smoothly through a chaotic sequence of events. ABET’s production marks the premiere of this work, which will hopefully be staged by others in the future.

Alice in Wonderland, A Fantasy with Music features a gifted ensemble cast to bring the fantasy to life. As Alice, Kristen Walsh is believable, capturing her character’s innocence, curiosity and frustration, and Jack Permenter reveals the alluring persona of the White Rabbit. Other cast members play multiple roles with many humorous standout performances. Jason Woods gives a stunning performance that’s full of madness as the Mad Hatter and Dave Alan Thomas is endearing as the perpetually grinning Cheshire Cat. David Lee Redding is hilarious as the Caterpillar and also demonstrates wonderful vocals during the musical portion of the show. Gretta Russe delivers an enthralling performance as the Duchess and Sommer Farhat is charming as the timid mouse. Evan Gould is enchanting as the Gryphon and Katie Johnston charismatically portrays the Mock Turtle. Evie Day gives a memorable performance as the domineering Queen of Hearts. Violinist Audrey Antee provides impressive support in her roles.

The production team is equally as brilliant. A.J. Neaher provides musical direction and plays the keyboards. Siddons designed the set, which features the scenic design of Katie Dawson and Frank Sanabria. Amy Tillotson costume design is magnificent and full of vibrant detail. Donna Lohesky is the assistant costumer and Matt Tompkins is the puppet designer. The props by Claire Cimino also bring an exceptional level of detail to the stage. Bryan Frank’s excellent lighting design complements the action as does Siddons’ and Frank’s sound design. Betsy Darnell is the light and sound operator. Randy Lessen is the stage manager and Jason Lamore and Hunter Steinkel serve as stage crew.

Performances continue May 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. Curtain is at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets online are $24, $12 for under 18, or at the door $25, $15 under 18. For tickets, call (904) 249-7177 or visit http://www.ABETtheatre.com.
ABET is located at 544 Atlantic Blvd. in Neptune Beach.

Photography by Susan Roche