by Beki Pineda
WONDERLAND – Bod and Lyrics by Rachel Rockwell; Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler; Directed by Helen R Murray. Produced by Aurora Fox Arts Center (9900 East Colfax, Aurora) through July 3. Tickets available at 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org.
Rock music seems to be ranking high in theatre productions as shows start gearing up again. It’s kind of like we want to be LOUD and proud to be heard again. WONDERLAND is a prime example. The authors have taken the familiar tale of Alice falling down a rabbit hole and added an original rock score to emphasize the lessons Alice learns on her journey into fantasy. All of the classic characters are there – the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and, of course, the Mad Queen of Hearts.
It’s always such a pleasant treat to learn that the singers you’ve grown used to seeing perform also – Surprise! Surprise! – play an instrument too. And well enough that they just didn’t take a couple of lessons before tackling these parts. Damon Guerrasio makes a mean Mad Hatter guitar player; Katie Jackson with her sweet voice gives advice as the Caterpillar and plays the violin; Anna High shakes her booty and her tambourine as the Red Queen. Darrow Klein, our Alice, along with Elton Tanega as the Cheshire Cat and Aaron Szindler as the King of Hearts, add more guitar riffs. Together with Keith Ewer on drums and Musical Director David Nehls on keyboard, they create the ultimate rock band. In counseling Alice in her efforts to find her way home, they sometimes also reveal their own feelings of uncertainty or not being good enough. Despite her protestations that at 11 and a half she is nearly a grown up, Alice realizes she still has a lot to learn and that home is the best place to be. But along the way she has wonderful adventures with caring and sometimes scary characters. Anna High in a red gown shaped like a giant heart is a force to be reckoned with!
The score welcomes rocking out by both the adults and kids in the audience; the young ones in your family will love it. The costumes by Nikki Harrison are spectacular with rock ‘n’ roll garb that allow for add-on’s as the actors adopt different characters. The sound design by Curt Behm, the set by Brandon Case, the props by Elicia James and the lights by Brett Maughan check off all the boxes toward creating a lovely and versatile environment for this romp. David Nehls confident and comprehensive musical direction is evident; the charming and talented Terrell Davis added the choreography to the production; and Helen Murray’s unerring guidance to the actors as Director is always noted in the strength of the production. The team at the Aurora Fox came together for another terrific theatre evening.
A WOW factor of 8!!