Festive pantomime adaptation at the Madinat Theatre in Dubai
Lewis Carroll’s enchanting tale about Alice and her wacky adventure into Wonderland comes to the Madinat Theatre stage on Friday December 19 to Tuesday 30. While the original story might be for kids, adults can learn a thing or two from the twisted world the protagonist accidently falls into. Joseph Fowler, director of the production, explains that in the play, when Alice sees the white rabbit dressed in a waistcoat (who is in a state of panic because he’s late) dart across the stage and down a rabbit hole, being a curious girl, she chases after him and falls into the hole and into Wonderland.
‘At first she thinks it might be Australia but then she realises it’s a magical realm. She then travels through Wonderland in pursuit of the rabbit, but never really catches up with him,’ Joseph says. ‘On her way, she meets various characters including the bubble-blowing caterpillar, the Cheshire cat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Mad Hatter and The Queen of Hearts, who in our production, challenges Alice to a game in order to be freed and not lose her head.’
This year’s festive performance is an extra special show as the Madinat Jumeirah celebrates its tenth anniversary. Alice in Wonderland is arguably one of the theatre’s biggest productions to date. The in-house show features a talented local team including Scott Marshall of Diverse Choreography, a UAE-based dance entertainment agency, as well as a partnership with Esmod, the French fashion institute, which is working alongside a costume designer in a purpose-built atelier at the theatre to create eye-catching costumes.
Scott has worked with music’s elite, including Cher and Kylie Minogue, for world-famous events such as the American Music Awards, the Brit Awards and The Royal Variety Performance.
‘The show is extremely colourful; from the set to the costumes and the lights. I think there is going to be some fantastic choreography. The scene that everyone waits in anticipation for is the Mad Hatter’s tea party, which is just great. All of these elements brought together make it the biggest production, and also makes it quite unique,’ says Joseph.
The cast is made up of a local ensemble of 16 students from Diverse Choreography in collaboration with Diverse Performing Arts School. The performers were selected through an audition process in Dubai back in September along with a handful of professional Dubai-based dancers. The production’s principle artists are from the UK and Canada.
‘All of the cast have performed in West End productions and have come from musical comedy backgrounds. The performer cast as Alice is both a composer and singer. People from this background perform two shows a day, five or six times a week, so it’s extremely physically demanding,’ adds Joseph.
The show follows the traditional pantomime with plenty of audience interaction, so expect a lot of ‘It’s behind you’ jibes and physical theatre. ‘It has a modern twist because the script is brand new. It has been written specifically for us at the Madinat Theatre so it features popular music and songs the audience will know and will be able to sing along to. It’s a mixture of jazz and comedy tunes,’ says Joseph.
Alice in Wonderland promises to entertain both young and old, and describes itself as a fun, family show ideal for the festive season. ‘It’s a story that most people are familiar with regardless of where they are from. During the festive season, everyone comes to Madinat Jumeirah for the Christmas market or the theatre so we need to ensure we provide an event that isn’t specific to one type of audience, and the story is key, says Joseph.
‘Alice in Wonderland is a good story to choose because it has been translated into so many different languages and it’s travelled to so many different countries. Most people will know something about it, whether it’s the characters of Alice, The Mad Hatter or perhaps they have seen the Disney film version. It’s also happened in a fantastical world so it really lets your imagination loose.’ With a well-rehearsed cast and a smattering of unique twists, Alice in Wonderland looks set to be a great festive treat for all to enjoy. From Dhs150-175. December 19 to 30. 11am, 3pm and 7pm. Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, www.madinatheatre.com (04 366 6546).