Caldbeck Players: ‘Alice, the Musical’

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March 2016. Review of ‘Alice, the Musical’

It is now 20 years since I first saw a Caldbeck Players children’s show and I have seen every one since. But I have no hesitation in saying that “Alice, the Musical”, performed in Caldbeck Village Hall last month, was without doubt the best.
The adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s book was very clever – with witty dialogue and tuneful songs. One or two of the early songs were just a little bit long and repetitive but that is a minor quibble and not the fault of this production. The dancing and singing were first class – every word clearly audible and projected.
There seemed to be a cast of thousands! Well, maybe not thousands but more than twenty, mainly children, which is quite a lot to train and keep under control. All had speaking parts and are to be congratulated. They all knew their parts, projected their voices well, sang, danced and moved about the stage with confidence. In fact, they did all that could have been asked of them. Lauren Woodham played Lorina and Lory and Rory Woodham was a teapot-sized Dormouse; Martha Hudson played Susannah and Charlie Hudson the Dodo; Ella Horne was the Frog Footman and Arran Horne the Gryphon; Mia Lillington played the Mouse; Caitlin Denyer was the Fish Footman; Lucy Jones grinned valiantly as the Cheshire Cat; Caitlin Brownrigg and Etta and Polly Cooper were the Two, Five and Seven of Hearts.
Of the several very talented youngsters, particularly eye-catching were: Katherine Lewin – as a very agitated, highly mobile and amusing White Rabbit; Robert Lewin as the March Hare; and the versatile James Lennon – in no less than three roles as the Caterpillar, Knave of Hearts and the Mock Turtle.
But the star of the show was undoubtedly Aimee Lillington who had by far the biggest part in the title role as Alice. She had real stage presence and gave a magnificent, faultless performance, acting, singing and dancing with great aplomb.
Added spice was provided by the six adult performers of whom Ken Woolfenden stood out as the Mad Hatter – a real tour de force.
Without appropriate musical accompaniment the whole thing might have sagged like a soggy soufflé but Lorraine Gash provided the right lightness of touch. The whole of the Production Team are to be congratulated – but special thanks and praise are due to Antoinette Ward who held everything together so successfully and provided us all with a wonderful evening’s entertainment.
Frank Cosgrove