In a city full of mainstream Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, I found myself at the Wise Hall in Vancouver with my friends, strapping on a mask and awaiting our entry to the unknown.
Down the rabbit hole we did go.
We found ourselves entering the world of Alice in Wonderland in the interactive theatre extravaganza Alice in Glitterland put on by the fan favourite Geekenders performing troupe. Right from the top, you were slapped in the face with excitement, jazz, sex and debauchery as the Red Queen played by Isabella Halladay (she/her) entered and proclaimed “Welcome To Glitterland!”. By the end of the first number you can already tell that this was going to be a night of theatre that you’ll never forget. From the scenic design (Ariel Slack), which included a full sized ball pit, to the incredible choice of music (which I assume that director Fairlith Harvey (she/her) had a strong hand in compiling together), you got to throw away your worries and let the night take you away.
Most people that have seen the world famous Sleep No More in New York City would assume that Glitterland was modeled after that, and though there are some similarities, this was truly like nothing I have ever seen before. The innovative role of “Drink Me” played by Karina Dar Juan (she/her) was the first scene I stumbled into and her impressive acro and pole skills sold me right away.
Before I get into more of the incredible performances I witnessed, I have to give kudos to the true star of the show – the lighting designer Keagan Elrick. The lighting was sexy, moody and really gave a clear narrative to the different scenes going on.
With more than 10 hours of content and 90+ scenes, there was something for everyone, even for those who were not originally familiar with the tale written by Lewis Carroll in 1865. I was lucky enough to catch Shara Turner (they/them) as the White Queen whose emotional journey was raw, down to earth, and wrought with pain. Halladay as the Red Queen was another show stealer, as her relationship with every cast member shined through with her impressive acting chops and ‘Mother Earth’ like moments.
To be honest, the whole thing was incredibly casted – kudos to Harvey on that front. There was much diversity in the choices, but it goes without saying that these were the right people for their roles, bar none. Reilly Ellis (he/they) as the Cheshire Cat and Jordan Svenkeson (they/them) both had strong acting journeys. Two newer faces that I’ve hadn’t had much chance to see before, I was impressed by their severe animalistic attack on their roles, which was juxtaposed by their deeply human emotions towards Alice.
And of course, I can’t write this review without speaking about Lyndsey Britten (she/her). I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Lyndsey for quite a while, and never have I seen her in more of a breathtaking role. She studied as a dancer before breaking through the theatre world, and I’ve seen her do many incredible performances on stage but this one takes the cake. Her naive approach, along with her natural sex appeal, beautiful lines, and strong story telling really lead the show to a victory. Britten is a leading lady, and anyone that was lucky enough to snag a ticket was seeing a star being born.
Harvey, and the Geekenders cast of Alice in Glitterland really did hit it out of the park with this one. With an impressive count of 15 choreographers, and a production team longer than this review it’s impossible to name everyone. As a fellow artist and creator, I say bravo!
I’ll end with this: every actor that was able to be whisked away into Glitterland is now going home to look up when Geekenders next auditions will be, and I’ll be first in line.
Photo by Zemekiss Photography