The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Op-Ed: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ delights young and old audiences

Charles Buckley and Grace Monaco in Utica University Theatre Department’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Photo: Nico Leonard, NML Creative.

Audience members went down the rabbit hole and became immersed in Wonderland during the Utica University Theatre’s presentation of “Alice In Wonderland” from Feb. 29 – March 3. Children’s laughter could be heard coming from the audience throughout the family-friendly performance.

I attended the March 2 evening performance with family and friends. A sign outside the entrance to the Strebel Auditorium read “Caution Rabbit Hole” with an arrow pointing towards the door. In the middle of the stage in Strebel Auditorium stood a wooden house, surrounded by an array of colorful flowers. The auditorium had playing cards strung along its walls and a checkered path led the way to the stage. 

Director Rachel Wolfe took full advantage of the possibilities of a live setting by decorating the walls of the auditorium and having the characters interact with the audience.

“It was a great production for kids and had fun interactive activities for both kids and adults,” senior Corrine Bush said. “I hope the theater department does more interactive performances.”

Wolfe made the show a fully immersive experience by encouraging the audience to participate in the performance. Before taking a seat, everyone received an audience participation kit. It included a teacup to join in the Mad Hatter’s tea party, a white rose to paint with a red marker while you are waiting for the show to start, bubbles for any time you want, but especially during the caterpillar scene, and a flower to hold up and be part of the garden.

Throughout the performance, the characters ventured out into the audience multiple times. One of my favorite parts was when the characters searched the auditorium to find a young audience member to come up on stage and fill time when a cast member was changing. The interactive component set this play apart from others I’ve seen and it was fun to watch the kids enjoy the spotlight. 

Wolfe said the actor-audience interaction “gives the impression that you’re there with the characters which is something that I think live theater can really do well.”

Since “Alice in Wonderland”  is a children’s play, this is somebody’s first experience with attending live theater, according to Wolfe. She wanted it to be different from watching a movie and decided to make it an interactive performance to show off the possibilities of what you can do when you’re telling a story in a live setting.

“Since our culture is very screen oriented I sort of wanted to open up people’s imaginations,” Wolfe said.

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