On Friday, Ro and I went to the National Ballet’s performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
It was at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts; I can’t remember if I’ve ever been there before because the inside didn’t look familiar (though someone told me it’s recently been renovated). It’s possible that I went at some point in high school on a music trip, though I’ve only ever been to one other ballet and that was The Nutcracker many years ago.
We had pretty decent seats; we were in Ring 4, but it’s nicely angled so that you never have to worry about straining over the heads of a tall person in front of you. It made for a great view of the stage.
Of course, the people in the orchestra level were treated to “flowers” dancing in the aisle the first time Alice sticks her head through the tiny entrance to Wonderland, but they were an extra $100 and, since I’m not a ballet expert, I didn’t really see the pointe (see what I did there?) in being that close to the stage.
The set design was absolutely gorgeous. The background and a large screen were manipulated beautifully, especially in the scene where Alice is in a room full of doors. I was wondering how they would achieve that, since they couldn’t get the dancer to actually grow or shrink, but it was really effective.
The familiar cast of characters were also done well. The Chesire Cat was genius, as he was made of multiple moving parts (held by dancers clad completely in black). The Caterpillar was also really cool: he was a belly-dancing harem leader!
Of course, the part I was most looking forward to was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and I was not disappointed. The Hatter was a tap-dancing madman, and my only issue was that I wish it had been a longer segment.
The Queen of Hearts was also magical, and I loved that her dress doubled as a seat for the King.
There were a few parts that I felt dragged for a little too long. While the flower dancing scene was very pretty, it seemed to go on forever without actually advancing the plot (Ro says the same thing happened in the Disney movie, but I don’t remember it very well, so I’ll have to take her word on it). The beginning also took a while to really get started, which is funny because Alice tumbles down the rabbit hole within a handful of paragraphs in the book, but it did a nice job setting up the story.
The ballet stayed close to the source material with only a few major changes; it starts off at Alice’s house, where guests are arriving (guests who will later play Wonderland residents) and we meet Alice’s love interest who is kicked out for stealing a tart (guess who he ends up being in Wonderland?!).
I have to admit that I’m a sucker for the “it was all a dream – or was it?” ending. After the court tumbles down around her, a modern-day Alice wakes up in the courtyard of a university with her boyfriend, convinced that she had been dreaming after reading a book. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the White Rabbit makes a final appearance, and I thought it was just perfect.
*All performance images were taken from the National Ballet’s website*