'Alice' doesn't travel well from written page to stage

April 23, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

A novel is a novel. A play is a play. And neither automatically becomes a successful version of the other.

That's one lesson to be learned from the Moonlight Trouper's presentation of "Alice In Wonderland," which is showing at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center this weekend.

Indeed, a great deal of this script adapted for the stage by Eve Le Galliene and Florida Friebus comes directly from Lewis Carroll himself, and therein lies the problem. With no handcrafted dramatic structure to buttress them, the enchanting monologues and conversations of the novel become talky and just plain uneventful when transported to the stage. Some audience members, I suspect, may begin emulating the White Rabbit by developing an acute sense of the passage of time.

But let me also say that the talented, well-intentioned Moonlighters do get what there is to get out of this vehicle. "Alice In Wonderland" is a well acted, marvelously costumed, immensely colorful production that should, on balance, prove enjoyable to kids of all ages.

Kristen Mallick of Arnold makes a very nice Alice -- animated, attractive and suitably amazed by the crazy universe she stumbles onto on the other side of the looking glass. She barely waves at the correct pitches in her opening song, but otherwise she is quite good.

Carol Cohen gives everyone -- audience and cast -- a shot of

adrenalin when the imperious Queen of Hearts shows up, with her nebbishy King (hilarious Scott Nichols) in tow.

Jason Clarke looks and sounds wonderful as the Mad Hatter and Joy Ajello is delightfully ditsy as the White Queen. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee are terrific, though "The Walrus and the Carpenter" could lose two verses and still be too long. Mary Armour is a bundle of energy as the White Rabbit.

My two little ones were especially impressed by a colorful quartet of birds and by Christina Kniess, a most engaging Cheshire Cat.

Let us also tip a cap in the direction of music director Rinaldo Massimino, whose unobtrusive synthesizer provided atmospheric accompaniment throughout.

Show times are 7 p.m. today and tomorrow and 2 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Information: 541-2457.

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