Newbury YoungStars - Alice in Wonderland
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Newbury YoungStars - Alice in Wonderland

15th to 17th March 2012.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Happy summer days of Wonderland

Newbury YoungStars: Alice in Wonderland Jnr, at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, from Thursday, March 15 to Saturday, March 17

This year Newbury YoungStars made an excellent choice of show for their three days at the Arlington Arts.

They captured "the happy summer days," of the original book. Their enjoyment was evident in the natural smiles and enthusiasm on stage throughout a powerful hour of enhanced Lewis Carroll fantasy. A great deal of hard work resulted in a seamless performance characterised by lively choreography and good singing.

From the outset, we loved the triple Cheshire Cat: narrators and cheerleaders, confidently played by Georgia O'Brien, Megan Bakewell and Eloise Trumper. The three Alices: Carly Mcintosh, Emily Deacon and Bethany Kingston were in good voice. The Caterpillar, George Stacey stole the show with his infectious smile, easy grace and well tuned song. All were well supported by the chorus and a valiant musical trio accompanying from the balcony. The timing changes were managed well and effectively synchronised between stage and band. A few radio mike problems were soon ironed out, the dancing looked effortless and everyone came in on cue apart from the deliberately tardy White Rabbit, James Morris: "I'm late!"

This was a very colourful production with imaginative visual effects and great costumes, many faithful to the original Tenniel illustrations of 1865 and the Disney film of 1951. Alice's blue gingham dress and white pinafore replicated the film. The tetchy Flowers were bang up to date. Tiny Tweedledum and Tweedledee, padded out in yellow were energetically portrayed by Chloe Alsbury and Lilia Norman. The huge gauze 'sea of tears' and the Mad Hatter's gaudy tea table were effective. Emily Sinfield was an inspired Queen of Hearts. You're nothing but a pack of cards was well done by the supporting cast.

One disappointment was that the show contained only a handful of well-known Disney songs. Short quotes from familiar tunes such as Anchors Aweigh and Gilbert and Sullivan: "we sail the ocean blue" pepped up the score. The polished finale, a reprise of Zip-a-Dee-Dooh-Dah, had audience members on their feet and the applause from the supporting families was enthusiastic.

EILEEN CASTER