Oregon Children’s Theater Presents ‘Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera’

By  | 

Oregon Children’s Theater began their 2010-11 Season with a bang on October 30th with the opening performance of Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera. Like many of the movies, TV specials, and books coming out these days, the show is an adaptation of the Lewis Carrol novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However, this isn’t your Disneyfied rendition. The show is a non-stop journey through a well known story accompanied by head-bobbing musical numbers, inspiring visuals, and a wonderful cast of characters.

My 8 year old daughter and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the opening performance on October 30th. I’ll get to the performance in a moment, but I wanted to take a minute to promote the experience of going to the theater with your kids in general. I have a new found appreciation for organizations like Oregon Children’s Theater, what they do, and the experience and inspiration they bring to our kids.

I don’t know about you, but I have a daughter who can make a tiara out of just about anything, can spend hours in front of the mirror pretending to rescue Prince Charming or accept her latest Oscar, and knows every word to every Hannah Montana song ever released (and sings them louder than Hannah herself). The ability to allow her an afternoon to get dressed up, go downtown, walk into a place like The Newmark Theater, and attend a real, live musical theater production was just as memorable for me as it was for her. Life affords us a limited number of wide-eyed, awe-struck moments and the Oregon Children’s Theater hands them out like candy.

The show, cast, and set were spectacular. Given that the original script and score were written in the 1970’s, the songs have a distinct groove to them that entertains the kids while still sparing myself and my fellow parents from the typical sugar-coated nursery rhymes set to music. I’m still catching myself singing ‘So, So Bored’ days later. Since the show is a Rock Opera, the entire production was set to music. In other words, no spoken dialogue and a constant attention grabber for the kids. My daughter can barely sit through a movie without asking for snacks, a bathroom break, or for an explanation of the most recent scene. However, she sat in rapt, almost-falling-off-her-seat attention for the entire show, only taking a few seconds between musical numbers to beam me her own Cheshire Cat grin.

Sara Catherine Wheatley successfully brought a rock edge to her portrayal of Alice while still projecting that innocence and imagination that is so critical to the character. Listening to her sing her way through the production was a joy. The White Rabbit, played by Dave Cole, was the highlight of the show for both my daughter and myself. Mr. Cole’s talent is completely apparent in his ability to act, sing, and play the guitar simultaneously throughout the majority of the show. His character is far from the hyperactive, paranoid, ever-punctual cartoon character we’re all familiar with. Instead, the White Rabbit in this production is a pleasant mesh of Sgt. Pepper and B.B. King. We found ourselves searching for the White Rabbit along with Alice. The Mad Hatter (Michael Mitchell), Caterpillar (Emily Sahler Beleele), Mock Turtle (Vin Shambry), and the rest of the cast all contributed to turning a wonderfully entertaining afternoon into a lifelong memory that both my daughter and I will forever cherish together.

Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera is playing in downtown Portland at the Newmark Theater stage in Hatfield Hall (1111 SW Broadway) through November 21, 2010. Show times are Saturdays at 2:00pm and 5:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $16-$26 for adults and $13-$20 for children. Group Discounts are available. For more info on Oregon Children’s Theater, Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera, as well as the OCT 2010-2011 Season and Acting Academy, check out the OCT website. You can also visit the website for the production where you can listen to the songs, read about the characters, and find activities for the kids based on the show at www.alicerockopera.com.