KYDS Youth Drama Society – Disney Alice in Wonderland Jr
It’s always good to go to see a junior show where the cast and crew are so enthusiastic about their productions. This is the second time I have had the opportunity to come along to see one of their shows and I’m so glad I did. Yes Tiptree does have a lot of talent!
KYDS really try hard to create a theatre in the rather large school hall with excellent cast photos as you come in and a professional printed colour programme. A bit of a shame then that the script let them down as there seemed to be little content for the main principles to get their teeth in it. It was also a little short – first half was just half an hour and I can see now why they stretched the intro dance scene and the other singing numbers.
They do have a wealth of talent within this group and a very talented crew. It’s a shame that they don’t get in for longer at the tech to get the sound and lighting right but I understand that they only have one day to do this and can’t do anymore with the school lighting rig. There were some sound issues, of which they were aware and also some of the cast hadn’t learnt to project properly to the audience so sometimes it was hard to hear what they were saying even though a lot of them were miked up.. What was missing in the chorus numbers were SMILES! Some of the chorus looked very serious, and the concentration on their faces, which was probably due remembering words as well as dances, meant that some of them didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves although I’m certain they were!
Most of the costumes were diverse, colourful and in period although they kept the chorus in modern costume which I thought a bit strange but it did seem to work in the end. Seeing Alice in her Victorian costume of blue and white and headband with the entire chorus in modern dresses did seem a little bizarre.
The white rabbit Ben Collins decided to do the role in an American accent which I’m not sure worked but he did epitomise the role and rushed around the stage as only the white rabbit could.
There were excellent performances from the principles. The three Alice’s (Grace Upton, Daisy Greenwood & Lucy Greed, (small, medium and tall) were all good and had clear singing voices. All three had matching costumes and wigs and it was clever of the director to use three rather than change their scenery which was minimal. Props – if you are going to say that a bottle looks pretty and that you are going to drink from it – please either fill it with some coloured liquid or paint the outside. A clear empty bottle doesn’t work!
Clearly spoken, well sung, energetic performances by Tweedledum and Tweedledee – Becky Wright and Becky Craig. I loved the acrobatics. Well done girls to do all that whilst singing.
Three actors played the Cheshire Cat – which was original as they narrated it between them very well but Alice Mason shone out as like Sophie she throws herself into her role and her personality shines through. Good teamwork from all three of them.
For me the production really upped its game when Sophie Stocker bounced onto the stage as the Caterpillar. This lady really has that special something and I remembered how good she was as the Wicked Witch in the panto. She acts with gusto and throws herself into her roles. Her impressive performance continued in the second half as the butterfly. I would love to see her do more drama as she is extremely talented.
In the second half we had the wonderful Mad Hatter played by Peter Greenwood. I really thought his costume and make up exceptional as he reminded me of some type of mad Halloween Tim Burton character. His height and slim build really gave him the edge for the madness and comedy of the character. I also loved the March Hare – Will Riglin who was his very bouncy sidekick. Both could belt out a tune and worked well together.
The Red Queen, Abigail Morgan was excellent in her cameo role and used her height to advantage. She had a very regal red costume and headdress and it was good to see her little husband – Harry Yelland cowering beneath her.
All the cast gave their all on this first night and I didn’t hear a prompt. A lot of hard work had gone into this production and I do hope that this group go from strength to strength and get more young actors joining them. Well done KYDS.
North Essex Theatre Guild
Showcase Festival 2014-2015
Alice in Wonderland
Friday 20th June 2014
This version of the Alice story uses characters from both the Wonderland and Looking Glass stories. It also takes liberties with some of the characters, three Cheshire cats for instance, and also with the story line in which the croquet game becomes a game of Simon Says, but it still retains most of the characters we all know and love.
Front of House
KYDS always provide very well organised front of house staff, showing people to their seats and selling raffle tickets.
The was a long queue of patrons outside the hall prior to the show starting, as they were not allowed into the hall until fifteen minutes before the start of the performance, was this really necessary?
There were problems with the raffle as it appeared that unsold tickets had been placed in the box and this caused an unnecessarily long raffle draw and interval.
The Programme was one of the best I have ever seen for an amateur production. James, Alexandra, Marcus and Dave are to be congratulated on producing such a high quality programme, which included individual photos of all the cast members with their names and characters, rehearsal photos, “The Queen of Hearts” recipe for Tarts, and credits.
Simple staging using an open stage with back drops and a fantastic tree stage right, big enough for the White Rabbit to be able to disappear down its roots.
Sound & Lighting
The lighting was first class the whole show was well lit without it creating any shadows.
The sound plot was crucial to this production. All the music for the songs was on CD therefore the sound operation had to be spot on, as it was except for one small glitch towards the end of the production where it appeared to be little late.
The cast had the advantage of being able to use microphones which in the main worked very well so they were not drowned by the music, there were a couple of occasions where they were over amplified but that’s really a minor criticism.
Costumes and Make Up
When I adjudicated Snow White for KYDS I made the comment that apart from the principals the costumes were not very good, but in Alice they were brilliant. All of the cast were fitted out with wonderful costumes that fitted their characters perfectly including three identical outfits for the three Alice’s. Great credit must be given to Hannah and Alice the costume co-ordinators.
The makeup for all the characters was just right the two that particularly stood out were The Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.
Right from the overture the various characters were introduced to us in dance form and throughout the production the dancing was energetic, flowing and above all a joy to watch. The director/chorographer and cast must have put in a tremendous amount of work to achieve such high quality.
The story teller started off the show in a good clear voice which set the whole play on its way, Emily gave a very strong performance to the part of Mathilda.
All three of the Alices’ gave superb performances, apart from each ones size they looked very much alike, helped by identical costumes and blond wigs. They also moved the same as each other and, at times, and I wondered whether I was watching Small Alice or Middle Size Alice. All sang and danced very well their diction was clear as it was with the rest of the cast. Well done Daisy, Grace and Lucy.
Very energetic from the start this young actor Ben gave us a full bloodied powerful performance right from his first entrance and through the entire production; you had to watch what he was up to next!
Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee
Both of these characters are normally portrayed as short and round, but not this time. Becky Wright and Becky Craig gave us two tall, slim and very energetic twins, cart wheeling around the stage, getting their arms and legs twisted around each other full of energy and mischief. A really great performance from these two young ladies.
Again a change to the normal with the Cheshire Cat represented by three cats and very well it worked too, the pace of the dialogue was quick the delivery of lines was well timed and Mathew Russell, Mathew Greed and Alice Mason worked well together.
What a great part, having your nose tweaked every time someone wanted to enter the door and reacting to it, Calin did the doorknob proud and had great fun with the character, well done Calin.
I loved this character, tightly encased in the caterpillar Sophie gave it her all, but during the interval she metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly, so we got two sides of Sophie for the price of one. Another great performance.
Queen of Hearts
A very tall very loud Abigail gave us a Queen of Hearts to be reckoned with. She dominated her scenes striding around the stage as though she owned it, which of course she did! This was a very strong, well controlled performance, with the right amount of pace and volume.
King of Hearts
In contrast to his Queen Harry was probably the smallest member of the cast, which created a wonderful contrast to the very tall Queen. Whilst the Queen dominated the stage the King was always behind her, pushing other courtiers aside to get in the correct “Kingly” position, I assume that it was a deliberate ploy on the directors part not to mic the King therefore giving in a weaker voice than his queen.
One of the minor parts in the show, but Katie gave it her all; it was a joy to see younger members of the cast on level terms with the more senior members.
A full on Mad Hatter from Peter, a loud, pompous show off, just as The Mad Hatter should be, another actor that had full command of the stage whenever he was on. Peter has a very strong voice which was over amplified, either Peter needs to be aware on the strength of his voice or the sound engineer needs to reduce the volume of the amplification.
Apart from this Peter gave a very strong performance
“Mad as a March Hare” as the saying goes Will dashed around the stage ears flapping adding to the mayhem of the tea party, another of the “minor” parts in Alice but a very important one adding his enthusiasm to the overall success of the show.
The last but not least member of the trio of Tea Party goers , Cheyenne was quietly sleeping her way though the scene coming to life at the appropriate times to add the mayhem of the party.
All three worked well together to give us a lively and very enjoyable scene
Iris, Poppy, Marigold, Rose, Petunia, Lily, Violet and Daisy, were spiteful, annoying and arrogant towards poor Alice, they sang and danced beautifully.
Chorus and Guards
What a wonderful Chorus, when the actors were not acting in their named rolls they were members of the chorus, and they gave it the vitality that so many chorus lack. The singing and dancing was energetic and they looked happy with big smiles on their faces, showing how much they were enjoying themselves, and this makes the audience enjoy the performance. I particularly enjoyed “Painting the Roses Red”.
I looked back on the adjudication I gave for KYDS Pantomime of Snow White and thought the group has come a long way in its standard of presentation since then, The whole show had a wonderful feel about it, the pace, the acting, singing, dancing, set, staging and the costumes had improved immensely,
There was not a weak link in the whole show, congratulations to Jon and his team, I trust KYDS will continue to go on from strength to strength.