Through the rabbit hole: No Square Theatre performs musical that mixes popular book with a parallel story of grief, loss and love


Falling into rabbit holes may be a hazard of living in the Internet age, but the thespians at No Square Theatre will be taking audiences on an enlightening journey when Alice by Heart takes the stage on March 8.

This insightful musical tells the story of a teenager living in the midst of WWII. It is set in an underground tube station bomb shelter and addresses grief, loss and love while referencing the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“The rights for the show just became available,” said Ella Wyatt, No Square director. “The day it was available we jumped on it. I think the story is just so relatable and the music is just gorgeous.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy No Square Theatre

Roni Dvir, Brennan Eckberg, Lexi Maerov and Maverick Wyatt portray the young and old characters in the upcoming No Square Theatre production

Written by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, the play has become popular with high school and college students who are familiar with the writers’ popular Broadway hit Spring Awakening.

Wyatt held auditions in December before the holidays, wanting to make sure there was enough time if she needed to recruit actors.

Her fears were unnecessary. More than 90 people auditioned for the show.

“I was very overwhelmed,” she said. “They’re so talented. I could’ve cast 50 of those people at the auditions.” Instead, she had to select just 10 adults and two children, but she is thrilled with the final group.

“I often times (during rehearsals) just sit and enjoy listening to them,” said Wyatt. “I have worked with some of them before, but there’s a lot of new people, which is exciting.” Many of the performers work other jobs in the profession, including performing at Disneyland and other theater groups.

Click on photo for a larger image

The cast of “Alice by Heart,” (L-R) Back row – Sydney Penticuff, Erica Farnsworth and Rob Harryman; Middle row – Diego Huerta-Gutierrez, Roni Dvir, Precious Montgomery and Marco Lapayese-Calderon; Front row – Kito Garcia and Owen Stapp

The actors performing and their parts include: Alice – Roni Dvir; Alfred/White Rabbit/March Hare – Brennan Eckberg; Nigel/Dormouse – Marco Lapayese-Calderon; Dodgy/Duchess – Kito Garcia; Harold Pudding/Mad Hatter – Owen Stapp; Clarissa/Queen of Diamonds/Mock Mock Mock Turtle/Caterpillar 2 – Precious Montgomery; Dr. Butridge/King of Hearts/Jabberwocky/Mock Turtle – Rob Harryman; Angus/Caterpillar/Knave of Hearts – Diego Huerta-Gutierrez; Tabatha/Cheshire Cat – Sydney Penticuff; Red Cross Nurse/Queen of Hearts – Erica Farnsworth; young Alfred – Maverick Wyatt and young Alice – Lexi Maerov.

“They are all so talented,” said Wyatt. “They’re perfect for these parts.” The age span offers diversity, but the theme crosses all boundaries.

“It feels like the story is very universal,” Wyatt said of Alice by Heart. While there was some rewriting of the original play when it left Off-Broadway, it is expected this round of productions, performed with the newly released rights, will ultimately be modified again.

“I think they (Sater and Sheik) don’t feel like they’re done with this,” said Wyatt. “But we’re one of the first to get this opportunity, so I’m excited.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Kito Garcia displays a skirt prop for the No Square Theatre production

Wyatt, whose father died a year ago, has analyzed how grief is handled throughout the play.

“It’s all about grief and how we deal with it, or push it aside,” she said. “In the end, losing someone does not mean you have to lose them forever. They can live in your memories.”

The story revolves around Alice Spencer, whose teen life has been turned upside down as she and her friend Alfred need to go to the shelter. Alfred has to be quarantined because of his tuberculosis and they journey down the rabbit hole while escaping into their cherished book.

The two travel through the tale and in the process learn about first love, loss and finding courage to carry on.

“They’re living through their childhood, where they used to act out Alice in Wonderland as kids,” says Wyatt. “It’s very whimsical, but there are sad things as well. It covers the span of emotions, as things are when you’re going through grief.”

While the play was originally performed in 2012 in London, Wyatt says the setting also reflects the current events throughout the world today.

Click open story button to continue reading…

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) Rob Harryman, Erica Farnsworth, Marco Lapayese-Calderon, Sydney Penticuff, Owen Stapp, Kito Garcia, Diego Huerta-Gutierrez, Roni Dvir and Precious Montgomery are cast members of “Alice by Heart”

The production will be accompanied by live music, coordinated by music director Roxanna Ward. The choreographer will be No Square Theatre’s Sabrina Harper.

This year No Square Theatre has expanded productions, with six full-length shows and three concerts.

“It is my first year as artistic director and I’m going all out,” said Wyatt. “I just love it so much. Theater is my life, and the board has been so supportive.” When choosing plays, Wyatt said she looks at what story needs to be told at that moment.

And for Alice by Heart, Wyatt believes not only will the story resonate, but also that audiences will enjoy the unique connectedness that happens when seeing a show in person.

“It leaves you with an uplifting feeling at the end,” Wyatt said. “And that’s one of the best things about live theater.”

For more information about Alice by Heart or to purchase tickets, click here. The show runs from March 8 through March 17. There is a special Theater on the Spectrum show on March 16 at 3 p.m. for people with sensory sensitivities.

Slide 3
Slide 4




Send this to a friend