The next step in local theatrical productions is everywhere this spring – performances filmed online.
By Melanie Hooks
Pasadena’s spring season A Noise Within Repertory ends with two productions, both adaptations of beloved literature, Homer The Iliad and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Both feature their regular resident artists; everyone faces a welcome return for their season ticket holders. The company also filmed a generous amount of additional content such as backgrounds on each performance and interviews with these artists and others, all for free at anoisewithin.org.
Alice opens this weekend with performances from now until June 20e, and notably, carries a new type of theatrical credit: director of photography. Andressa Cordeiro has taken on the unenviable job of transforming a live cinema experience on our laptops and streaming home screens. Overall, she made the change as theatrical as possible. In many cases before terrible times, “theatrical” shooting meant “static”, “boring” and “flat”.
Cordeiro, working with director Stephanie Shroyer and company co-founder Julia Rodriguez-Elliot, manages enough close-ups and cuts between characters to keep the eye reasonably engaged, getting stronger towards the end of the play. It’s a double challenge after a long year of patrons watching films and television at home, content designed to be viewed on a screen. Shroyer and his cast however still retain much of the traditional theatrical staging, which can mean long stretches of two or three people standing / sitting and talking. It’s a flawed marriage at the best of times, but it looks like the best possible solution to the hybrid problem before the company takes customers inside this fall.
Erika Soto carries the torch as Alice baffled but determined to work on it. Fans of the book will likely appreciate this particular mid-1920s adaptation.e century by Eva La Gallienne and Florida Freibus, which centers the dialogue directly on the history of Caroll. However, the theater’s own study guide for the play emphasizes that this is not the whimsical Disney-type version for kids. It is really a commentary on the fantasy of a child by “an adult mathematician on vacation” as La Gallienne writes.
While we’re getting Jeremy Rabb’s treatment as the delightfully agitated White Rabbit, it’s a sparse underuse compared to many of the more familiar adaptations. The play feels more like a series of stories connected only by Alice, not a wacky-style tale that ends in a battle with the Queen of Hearts. The cross-casting of Justin Lawrence Barnes as this queen, with Susan Angelo as the king, ends up giving more authority to Angelo, whose authoritative presence cannot be ignored despite the demanding Queen’s shrill cries. by Barnes.
The genres are actually fluid throughout the directing, most of which work well to keep the feeling fantastic. Angela Balogh-Calin’s clever costumes with Shannon Hutchins wigs and makeup certainly create wonderfully extravagant illusions that Carroll would have appreciated. Josh Grondin’s original music is delicious but seems too little scattered.
The company is strong everywhere, with individual actors playing multiple characters. There are some particularly funny Kasey Mahaffy moments like the March Hare, Tweedle Dum and the Gryphon, which always has a good synergy on stage with frequent stage partner Rafael Goldstein as Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee & Caterpillar.
Resident artist Bert Emmett manages to bring some of the play’s only true pathos with modest and charming performances, especially as White Knight. Susan Angelo as White Queen may also have a few moments like this, as both characters express their own confusions, while Julanne Chidi Hill as Red Queen, Cheshire Cat, and Humpty Dumpty command the scene each time with the Carroll’s mark of absurdities. -load.
It is a very smart and well made Alice. This is important because of the way it is done to keep the theater alive until we can get back together safely. It can’t claim a lot of whimsy or levity, but maybe an adult’s view of the world of a kid never really can.