4/21/2013 8:04 PM
Described by Swados as a “pageant of movement, songs, dances and mime,” Alice in Concert is a delightful “concert drama” that recounts Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The piece is theatrical, whimsical, and fun for all ages. Children, adults, or intergenerational theatre groups could all perform the piece in many different manners. Swados suggests simple staging, letting the audience color in the world with their imaginations; I found her proposal refreshing.
Alice in Concert, is predominately sung, though there is some dialogue, as well as speaking in rhythm. After an overture of bells, the piece starts with Alice singing. Perhaps, the transition into Wonderland would be more spectacular if the rule had been set so that the “real” world was spoken, and Wonderland was all music. As I wasn’t able to listen to the music, I’m not sure if there isn’t a major shift in the type of music in Wonderland. If there were a giant musical shift, it would succeed in being closer to a complete reversal from the first “normal” world.
Swados employs barbershop quarters, Indian raga style, jazz scat, sad soupy violins, Vegas lounge singers, acapella singing, and even a Bob Dylan imitation in her compositions. Her kaleidoscopic choices constantly reinvigorate and expand Wonderland. Likewise, these new layers of music refresh beloved characters. I particularly was tickled pink by the “savage soprano” reference to the Red Queen.
Alice in Concert pushes farther into the dream world as the piece progresses. Alice even starts to play other characters, like Humpty Dumpty and the White Queen. Ultimately, Alice becomes Queen and wakes up. The piece concludes with Alice and her sister Edith successfully singing Alice’s lesson about life. A musical journey into a “regular day if you’re mad,” this piece has “produce me” all over it.