Pitt Repertory Theatre Presents Alice March 24-April 3

Issue Date: 
March 22, 2010

Pitt Rep, the University of Pittsburgh Department of Theatre Arts’ mainstage company, will present the world premiere of Alice—described by the company as “a fun-loving and slightly zany adaptation” of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—March 24 through April 3 at the Studio Theatre in the basement of Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning. The production, which blends live music, theater, and puppetry, is recommended for children ages 8 and older.

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with three 2 p.m. matinees: Saturday, March 27; Sunday, March 28; and Saturday, April 3. Children’s tickets are $7 and student tickets $12; general admission tickets range in price from $16 to $22. Tickets can be purchased by calling 412-624-PLAY or visiting the Pitt Rep Box Office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on the lower level of the Stephen Foster Memorial.

While 2010 may arguably be the year of Alice—with filmmaker Tim Burton’s much-anticipated Alice in Wonderland, an acclaimed Syfy television network miniseries Alice that premieres later this year, and Melanie Benjamin’s best-selling new novel Alice Have I Been—Pitt Rep’s version stands out not only as a unique take on the story, but also one that features a distinctive partnership between artists, resulting in a show that has been carefully crafted from all angles, according to the company. Adapters Emilia Anderson and Tamara Goldbogen have collaborated with local musician Buddy Nutt to create what is described as “a quirky visual and auditory delight for theatergoers,” under the direction of Goldbogen and Sam Turich.

Although Pitt Rep’s Alice plummets into a parallel universe where rabbits drink tea, cats spout philosophy, and characters depicted on cards try to behead Alice, Goldbogen says the fantastical story is “a pretty big departure from Carroll’s novel.”

A group of ragtag circus performers brings the tale to life, using “breathtaking puppets, vivid imaginations, and physical dexterity,” according to Goldbogen. While most of the puppets are being designed and built onsite, the Alice puppet is being crafted by internationally known puppet designer Wavy Davy, best remembered for the puppets featured in the 1980s television series Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Currently a master puppet builder at IBEX Puppetry, Davy is donating his time and artistry to the project.

Songwriter and one-man band Buddy Nutt wrote more than 10 musical pieces for the production, described as “ranging from bouncy to bizarre, from haunting to hilarious.” Nutt’s “soundtrack” that transports audiences into Wonderland is executed by the actors, who form an onstage band with such traditional instruments as trumpet, organ, and guitar, as well as more unusual ones, including wine glasses, a saw, an autoharp, and a ukulele.

As a special treat for younger audience members, the cast of Alice will host a Wonderland-style tea party after each matinee, at which children and accompanying adults will have the chance to meet the costumed actors playing Alice and the wacky Wonderland characters.