Nancy Brooks, TréVaughn Allison, Sasha Koch, and Rob McPherson (Susan K. Hamon )

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Marielle Burt, a student at McLean High School , reviews “Alice in Wonderland” performed by St. Stephens & St. Agnes School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .

What a strange dream! Yet Alice’s strange and perfectly peculiar fantasy world never fails to delight. Such is the case in St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School’s production of the classic tale “Alice in Wonderland.”

One of the most enduring children’s stories, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has inspired countless translations for theater and film. In this theatrical adaptation by Madge Miller, a dash of mystery is added to the timeless adventure:  Alice is in search of a thief! The villainous Red Queen has given a plate of sugar tarts to the White Rabbit for safekeeping, but the tarts inexplicably vanish. To save the White Rabbit from the Queen’s wrath, our doe-eyed Alice wanders through Wonderland to catch the culprit, meeting sundry “curiouser and curiouser” characters along the way.

Leading the show as the daydreaming adventurer herself, Sarah Koch brilliantly captured the bravery and curiosity of the iconic Alice. Her airy voice and enchanting smile gave her an endearingly innocent demeanor. Whether she was caught between Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s bickering or in a trial surrounded by hot-tempered playing cards, her unwavering optimism made her the perfect storybook heroine.

The supporting cast of beloved Wonderland misfits leapt strait from the pages of Carroll’s novel, filling the stage with whimsy. Recreating the topsy-turvy world beneath the rabbit hole, the actors devoted themselves to the farcical incongruity of the script. In particular, the Knave of Hearts (Josh Movius) and the King of Hearts (Alex Collins) deftly drew laughs with their quick wit and unabashed physical comedy. As the Knave stole the King’s crown and danced a spastic jig around him, the King’s unaware, snobbish gestures sent laughter resounding through the auditorium. Though other small scenes seemed to drag at times, the ensemble’s zeal made the group scenes highlights of the production. In the climactic courtroom scene, the jury of Wonderland citizens cowered from the Red Queen and gasped in perfect unison each time the Queen shrieked “off with his head!”

The mesmerizing tech of the show was vital, for there can be no “Alice” without “Wonderland.” The stage was draped in shimmering flora, and a rotating set piece on center turned magically to reveal each new scene. The lighting elements were stunning, and the visual contrast in lighting between the real world and the world of Wonderland was especially effective. The makeup was equally impressive: the makeup artists skillfully transformed the faces of the animal characters into the creatures they embodied.

With St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School’s rendition of Wonderland, we are delightfully reminded, “We’re all mad here!”