Liphook Amateur Productions
What a surprise at Liphook Millennium Hall over the first weekend in December! Having gone to see LAMPS latest musical, “Alice in Wonderland”, everyone was prepared to see Lewis Carroll’s strange world and the creatures he created, and be greeted by the fresh face of Alice. But no, it was not quite as they expected! They were met by not just one, or two, or even three, but by four different Alices, who all brought something wonderful and different to the character. In this surreal world invented for the Liphook stage, I am happy they reported to me that they were thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
The Alices, played by Hanna Jackson, Ellen Meekin, Louisa Futcher and Amy Bleakley, weaved in and around the production, the audience never knowing which Alice they would see next, dancing, singing and being quite contentious throughout.
Louise Carroll, played by Rob Miller, opened the show with a great rendition of a 1970’s classic, “White Rabbit”, and from that moment on it was, song, music and dance throughout. Steve Baker, playing an extrovert Mad Hatter, was amusing throughout whilst also giving an excellent solo rendition of “Mad World”, which totally captured the engaged audiences throughout the weekend. Highlight from these two in Act II was a duet that ended in a Vienna Waltz that could easily have graced “Strictly”. Craig Revel Horwood, however, might have had a few words of his own to say “Dahlings”. Luca Whiteway, once again, considering his young age, gave a great performance as an excellent yokel March Hare, suitably accompanied by the able Alisha Patel as the sleepy Dormouse.
With more hilarious moments provided by Tweedledum (Natasha Lucas) and Tweedledee (Finola Couling), these LAMPS youngsters showed Carroll & the Hatter how to dance when they boogied to the Mad Hatter’s rendition of “I am the Walrus”, John Lennon’s, tribute to the writing’s of Lewis Carroll, plus their cowardly battle, over that silly rattle, fighting with an accompaniment of saucepans, colanders, umbrella and sword. (just as well they weren’t sharp as neither of them had great control over their apparatus). With David Lance providing a momentous portrayal of the Mock Turtle, these LAMPS juniors showed everyone what talent there is at present in our young Am Dram group. If you can have four Alices, why not two Gryphon’s? Yes we had them, skilfully played by ten year olds Tommy Miller and George Feeney.
Jenna Whiteway (Tiger Lily), Emily Shires (Rose), Katy Bleakley (Violet) and Ciara Meekins (Larkspur), (again all ten year olds) provided some great moments as those belligerent flowers who won’t give Alice the time of day. At least Alice (this time Amy Bleakley) tried to get them to smile with her beautiful solo, “Make Someone Happy”. Throughout the show, the four youngsters also provided much of the dance sequences, accompanied by a variety of parasols (colour matching each flower of course) and pink umbrellas, who were, for certain, the flamingos in the croquet scene)
Not only did the little pig squeal, when handed over to Alice, by our court Duchess (Nicole Snelling) but so did the audience, when new addition to LAMPS, Lyn Mason, juggled with those sharp knives as the pepper impresario Cook. (Foot Note: Kesh Patel had the audience in stitches on the Sunday when he stood in for Cook) With another new debut for LAMPS, Niamh MacLeod, was impressive as the sardonic Cheshire Cat, completing the running theme of brollies with her Marmalade coloured Cat Umbrella.
Several members of the audience were quick to point out that this was one of the most colourful productions put on by LAMPS, and much of this was down to superb costumes, marshalled and put together by Suzanne Miller and her team of helpers. It was hard to tell that Mary Coyte, playing the Queen of Hearts, wasn’t royalty herself, so resplendent was she in her Royal Red wardrobe, and didn’t she provide a regal rendition of “I’m Gorgeous” alongside a very shy Mad Hatter. With Steve Skeet playing her hard done by King of Hearts and Marcus Carter, the Knave who stole the Tarts, they made an elegant Royal Family.
LAMPS were thrilled by the comments of Theatre goers, who later relayed how they enjoyed the singing and storytelling throughout of the Narrators, Kate Shires, Karen Feeney, Nicola Carter & Gill Jones, also accompanied from time to time by Mary Coyte, Steve Skeet, Nicole Snelling & Lyn Mason. Lewis Carroll played his part as Narrator too, leading the rendition of “Queen of Hearts” and providing a great solo of the “Lobster Quadrille”. It was nice hearing many of the audience praising the performers, adding that the standards grow every year amongst the twenty plus youngsters in this show.
Eventually the trial of the Knave of Hearts began, conducted by the Trial Herald, White Rabbit (Alice Shires), with Lucie Skeet playing the Jury Foreman, (previously head gardener). With everything in the Trial scene becoming farcical, it took the Cheshire Cat to remind everyone that it was all a dream, which was cue for all four Alice’s to provide a fitting finale, singing a superb version of “Dreamer” that left everyone with a shiver of delight down their spines. A fitting end to a Wonderland of a show, that was a pleasure to direct, particularly when assisted by forever enthusiastic Kesh Patel, that mistress of organisation Nicole Snelling and our ever reliable soundman Damian Kamm.
Report written by writer and Director Dave Rowlandson
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