Ross Petty's 'Alice in Winterland'

A Virtual Family Holiday Musical

Courtesy of Ross Petty Productions

Joe Szekeres

A clever twist of a story classic to please the kids and the young at heart

Quirkiness and kookiness abound plenty in this sometimes clever, sometimes zany, and sometimes mature ‘panto’ twist of the story classic ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

And it’s all part of the tremendous fun Ross Petty provides for solid family entertainment during the Christmas and holiday season for the last 24 years. There are cheers and boos for the good and bad characters in this ‘Alice’. I must acknowledge writer Matt Murray for providing a lot of humour for the kiddos and yes, even some ‘adult’ humour as well where I burst out loud laughing at two points. I don’t want to spoil them but the first occurs as ‘mushrooms’ takes on a different meaning for adults. The second occurs when the story moves to the castle. All I’m going to say is thanks, Thom Allison, for making me laugh out loud.

I applaud Ross Petty for pivoting online for these last two Christmas seasons to continue providing quality entertainment now right across Canada.

Hopefully and with fingers crossed, we’ll all be back in the theatre next year to experience the magic and the laughter live and in person.

‘Alice’ begins where we meet a beaming, joyful sprite Allie (Kimberly-Ann Truong) who is in the throes of stocking up the mushrooms she is growing for her business’s opening of ALLIE’S ‘SHROOM ROOM. (Get it? And yes, my eyebrows were raised at that point. It’ll probably go over the kids’ heads). We also meet two of Allie’s friends who are helping her with the work: The March Hare (Alex Wierzbicki) and Dodo Bird (Hailey Lewis) who are just loveable and eccentric.

The first customer of the day is the whacky bizarro fairy ‘godmotherish’ Plumbum gloriously played to the nines by Dan Chameroy who never, ever ventured over the top. Plumbum got lost on her way to Wonderland castle to escape the cold Toronto winter in her new timeshare condo. She ended up at the ‘Shroom Room looking for directions, and I won’t spoil how Plumbum arrived there because it is freaking hilarious.

The weather turns nasty outside and the action switches where we meet the wicked, ‘goth’ like purple haired tinged ice witch Frostina (fetchingly played by Sara-Jeanne Hosie) and dimwitted servant and yes man Algor (Eddie Glen) who, at times, puts Frostina into her place when necessary. Frostina and Algor have stopped to ask directions to get to Wonderland castle to transform the castle into an ice palace. After they disappear, March Hare and Dodo Bird remind Allie of who she was many years ago as Alice and how important it is to return to save Wonderland castle. Allie is reluctant as she doesn’t wish to go back there but realizes she must.

Before the group leaves for Wonderland, Allie/Alice must find the elusive trickster of tricksters, the ChesPfizer Cat (grandly played by Thom Allison) to help stop the evil Frostina from changing Wonderland to Winterland.

I really liked the whimsical nature of the setting by using computer and colourful graphic images. Co-directors Mike Fly and Tracey Flye advantageously keep the plot moving to maintain interest for the young kids while also allowing the parents and adults to have a few smiles here and there. Tracey Flye thankfully has the characters invite the young kids up to move around and burn off excess energy which is every parents’ dream. Bob Foster’s selection of 80s music (Boogie Wonderland) sweetly brought me back to that disco era of the late 70s. Foster’s direction of the songs combined with Flye’s choreography effectively helped in transition from scene to scene.

Final Thoughts: This ‘Alice in Winterland’ placed a smile on my ol’ face. It charmingly brought me back to some wonderful memories of reading classic stories, sharing laughter during the Christmas and holiday season, and just being a kid again for a little while. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Join in the fun and watch ‘Alice in Winterland’.

Running time: approximately one hour.

‘Alice in Winterland’ streams across the country December 18 and 19, 2021. According to a release I received, online audiences can double the fun with this year’s ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ for an interactive one-of-a-kind theatrical experience. To purchase tickets, go to www.rosspetty.com.

Ross Petty Productions, in association with Crow’s Theatre, presents ‘Alice in Winterland’, a Virtual Family Holiday Musical

Producer: Ross Petty

Co Directors: Mike Fly and Tracey Flye with Choreography by Tracey Flye

Music Director: Bob Foster

Cast: Thom Allison, Dan Chameroy, Eddie Glen, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Hailey Lewis, Kimberly-Ann Truong, Alex Wierzbicki,

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