Review: Alice at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School

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Imaginative, creative and captivating shows are the hallmarks of productions at Dronfield’s Henry Fanshawe School - and the latest show excelled on all counts.

A musical production of Alice must surely have featured one of the biggest groups that director Jon Parker has worked with, drawing a cast of nearly 70 from every age group.

Getting so many performers ready for the show was no mean feat with the dramatic make-up alone taking two hours to apply,

The costumes were exquisite and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a professional production.

But face painting and colourful outings were mere trappings for the acting and musical talent which burst forth when the students hit the stage.

Joe Rayner was outstanding as a gloriously over-the-top Mad Hatter, manic expressions matched by his delivery of words and a knack of contorting his body into weird and wonderful shapes. He even kept up the twitchy persona when the cast took the curtain call - a star in the making if ever I saw one. He was aided and abetted by Jessie Goetzinger, who made a fabulous March Hare, in a performance which ranked as a highlight of the show.

Dylan Lambert gave a superb portrayal as the jumpy, tardy White Rabbit and Sam McElhattan shone as the hippy Caterpillar with an American drawl.

Alwyn Jones and Matthew Humpage brought the house down as the bickering Scottish twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Triumphing in the lead role of Alice, Megan Young brought the right amount of bewilderment to a naive young girl thrust into a wonderland populated by crazy characters.

These included six flowers who called themselves The Golden Afternoon Girls and were the ultimate in condescending snobs with braying laughs and few social graces. A top performance from Evie Walters, Abigail McClean, Ella Partidge, Rhini Townend, Indira Townend and Katie Lucas.

The haughty Queen of Hearts was played by Beth Atkin who gave a winning portrayal of the monarch who wanted Alice to pay for her life after she trumped her in a childish game.

This was a show which engaged with the youngsters in the audience who were particuarly enchanted by the puppet which Olivia Ford had clamped to her arm to highlight her role as Dodo Bird. Olivia certainly raised the roof with her loud commands to an ensuing army of Rock Lobsters.

Much of the narration was given by Amy Charles, Katie Smart and Nikki Stewart as three Cheshire Cats and a purrfect job they did to.

In fact, the whole production was a perfect example of wonderland.

GAY BOLTON