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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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'Alice': The Classic Tale With a Cajun Twist

Briel Felton | Contributing Writer

With a ‘crooked’ twist, the ODU Theatre Department presented Lewis Carroll’s classic story, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Set in modern-day New Orleans, beginning on the eve of Mardi Gras, we travel with Alice down the rabbit hole meeting the eccentric characters we know with Cajun flavoring mixed in.

The diverse cast, full of all different backgrounds, titles and ages only enhanced the theme of individuality amongst the group. The cast included Krystal Gonzalez as 14-year-old Alice, Heidi Joy Delacruz as Alice’s older sister, Gredda and the Red Queen, Phillip Martin as the Cajun speaking Cheshire Cat, Larry Lewis as the March Hare, Crystal Nolan as the Hatter, and George Plank as the White Rabbit and the Duchess. Other actors included Jasmine Godette, Cody McLaughlin, Jeffery Haddock and Jerome Trinidad, all juggling multiple characters and puppets, new and old, seamlessly bringing together this present-day adaptation of the classic story of ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

Alice, a little strange, longs to be accepted as a little crooked in a world full of conforming people. Her older sister, Gredda, is not making things any better, almost pushing ‘the rules’ of normalcy down her throat. With a whimsical change of the music, Alice is swept away, spinning and spinning down the rabbit’s hole, finding herself in the New Orleans-ish Wonderland. After meeting a variety of characters with a new spin, Alice began to find that being a little crooked can be the best thing.

This adaptation of ‘Alice’ was drawn from the mind of Lee Smith, with inspired by a trip to New Orleans. His wife and director of the production, Katherine Hammond, asked him to rewrite the story. On the trip, he called it, ‘The City of Happy Misfits’–everyone was happy to be weird together, therefore beginning the cultivation of his story of Alice.

“New Orleans and Alice seem to have something in common. The whole idea of Wonderland is that the characters aren’t crazy, they’re just a little different. They see the world their own way,” Smith said. The show explores major themes of a life lived successfully, remaining yourself in a sameness kind of world.

“It was magic! They did everything. They did all the things they were supposed to do and then some. They blossomed into performers tonight,” director Hammond said of their April 5 performance. Gonzalez felt very confident with the help of everyone who worked on the play. Jeffery Haddock, who played the whale, the dormouse, the shrimp and Lewis, talked about how they were able to put themselves into characters whether it be movement or thought. Nolan, who played the Hatter as an African-American woman, was excited about the role being flavorful.

“I really did enjoy it, that was funny. I like the New Orleans swing on it,” sophomore Geraldine Bolden said. The audience seemed to be entertained by the Louisiana-styled music that played in the background and musical numbers created by musical director, Skye Zentz.

Completely intrigued by the different characters and personalities submerged in the hour-long performance, “Alice” was a hit keeping the audience enthralled in its crooked, cajon flavorings.