Review: Alice In Blunderland (Panto Players Co-op)

Our guesses were way off.

A pantomime is neither strictly for children, nor a miming performance.

Exhibit A is Alice In Blunderland, a pantomime playing until this Saturday – January 7th – at Red Sandcastle Theatre on Queen Street East, near Logan.

Its back rows were filled with adults.

Some of them must have been parents or guardians, because the front row was all kids.

Alice In Blunderland begins with Matthew James Donovan as Caterpillar, introducing a few characters we ought to expect. And, how to react.

Booooo at the Red Queen, played by Brenda Somers in a becoming ruby red dress. Yell “Wiggles,” when Margaret Lamarre’s March Hare comes onstage.

Before long, Alice, played by Jenessa Grant, tumbles through mid-air – with the help of an aerial harness, and set to Alicia Keys “Fallin’” – into Blunderland.

Alice lands gracelessly on Rob Tweedledum, played by David Huband.

In Blunderland, no opportunity to sing – Mr. Donovan does a glassy-eyed cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit – tell a joke – including many with playful innuendo – awkwardly place a hand, insert a funny sound effect, or to strategically locate a top hat, is wasted.

By the final scene, with all the players onstage – including: A. Frank Ruffo playing Duchess Twanky, wearing something like a buccaneer’s hat; Allison McCaughey as Mock Turtle; Jackie English playing the Cheshire Cat, with a thick French, sometimes Russian-sounding, accent; and Tony Babock as Doug Tweedledummer, a performer my theatre partner observed was “really good” – the antics resembled something out of an episode of Animaniacs.

The gags and jokes got big laughs.

“So, what exactly is a pantomime?” my theatre partner happened to ask the stage manager, Deborah Ann Frankel, just before we left after the performance.

Ms. Frankel replied that, the traditional pantomime has elements of humor for adults and kids, plus songs and some audience participation. “I read that on Wikipedia,” Ms. Frankel added.

Alice In Blunderland fully lives up to the tradition of a pantomime show. And I recommend checking it out before it closes on Saturday.



Alice In Blunderland is playing at the Red Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen Street East) until Saturday January 7th 2012
– Performances are Monday through Friday at 7:00 PM, and Saturday at 3:00PM
– Tickets are $25.00; Students and Seniors $15.00; and Children $10.00
– Tickets are available at the doorot

Photo credit: Tony Babcock. That’s David Huband in the giant over-size pants, and Jackie English in her cat costume.