Alice: The Musical, Lyric Theatre, Belfast, December 8, 2018
By Conor O’Neill
Panto season is in full swing, and with three under CultureCrushes’ belt already, the thought of another was nigh to having the festive fun kicked out of me long before the insufferable turkey and sprout ensemble was dished out.
Fear not. The Lyric’s Alice: The Musical doesn’t utter the word ‘Christmas during its almost two hour running time. Lewis Carroll’s tale of a naïve and curious little girl falling down a hole seems to resonate since it was first published in 1865.
The reasons are hard to miss: a fantastical Wonderland, potions, a smiling cat, magic pills, a caterpillar, a tyrannical Queen and much more reveal a rich vein to mine. Writer, Paul Boyd, obviously couldn’t fit this all into the narrative of a ,musical, but what he’s come off with is pretty damn good.
Ruby Campbell’s Alice is a joy to both the eyes and most importantly the ears. I’ve no musical ear but what is apparent from the start is Campbell knows her way round the octaves. Thankfully without falling into the vocal gymnastics so many seem to be entrapped by.
Charlotte Curry’s narrating Cheshire Cat not only adds purring sex appeal but her sung narration is a pleasure to the ears. As there was no program I can’t name song titles, but everything made sense and the plot was easy, even for the younger audience members, to understand.
Campbell and McCurry are the only two of the six strong cast to play single roles. The Duracell fuelled White Rabbit, along with a few other ensemble’ members boots are filled by Christine Nelson. Tweedle Dee (Adam Dougal) and Tweedle Dum (Ray Campbell-Hill) also make an appearance and the pair’s antics are sure to bring a smile from all. Dougal also plays the White Night, an integral part of the tale.
The caterpillar/butterfly scene (Mark Dugdale) is simple eye-candy, special mention to choreographer Deborah Maguire, and moving to boot. As the plot moves from a 1920s style school-room and actor Alison Harding plays both teacher and the evil Queen with devilish aplomb, strange and stranger, curious and curiouser happenings occur. The dusted White King (Ray Campbell-Hill) understated performance again will catch your breath.
Potions and lotions, off with their heads, flights of fancy, characters as strange as one can even try to imagine, mind blowing set changes, plus music and lyrics, again the work of Boyd make for a great night out.
If ‘He’s behind you!’ or ‘Oh no you’ll won’t’ are simply not your thing, then Alice: The Musical will probably just be your festive night out.
There is a captioned performance on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at 1pm plus an audio described show on Sunday, December 9 at 1pm.
There are also special concessions for school groups. For more information visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or phone the box office on: 02890 385685
Alice: The Musical runs until and including January 5, 2019