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The Mills Players’ provocative look at Alice in Wonderland

Lokemele Davis

Alice in Wonderland was an upside-down, wacky and X-rated success, despite weeks of technical difficulties due to Lisser Hall’s renovation, the cancellation of the second-to-last rehearsal because of the Orville Shell lecture, and a week’s delay due to the producer’s serious health problem.

Directors Leah Albin and Sara Laufer introduced the Mills’ Players event by saying, “You know that Alice in Wonderland cartoon? Yeah, it’s nothing like that. It’s more – mature.”

Alice in Wonderland was originally written by Lewis Carroll and adapted for stage by Eva LeGallienne and Florida Friebus. Producer Winifred Wallace created a coming-of-age story of polite, conservative Alice, who gradually loosens up by entering into a nonsensical world of gay night clubs, bondage, liquor, drugs and sexuality.

“I was lying in bed one night and thought I should do something fun, new, slightly raunchy and unconventional. I thought to myself, what if we had naked people?” said Wallace, a senior and the last Dramatic Arts major at Mills.

The theme song “White Rabbit” from Jefferson Airplane drove the narrative forward, creating an atmosphere like that of the ’60s. Albin chose the song, claiming that about a quarter of the 200 CDs in her collection are from that decade.

Freshwoman Caitie McNamara played Alice and freshwoman Nichole Stockman played the Cheshire Cat, who appeared at Alice’s looking glass one dull day while she was yawning into a journal of poetry, then pulled her on through into a dizzying, obscure and surreal world of exploration.

McNamara said that she heard about the auditions 20 minutes before they took place, and was typecast by Wallace. She was happy to be involved in the play as Alice because she’s been acting her entire life, and Mills doesn’t have theater in its curriculum.

The auditions had a large turnout of 25 people, many of them freshwomen. Many of the cast were new to theater, but Albin said that they picked acting up quickly and knew how to adlib and act naturally on stage.

Stockman said that she enjoyed playing the role of the Cheshire Cat because she “smiles a lot naturally.” She also said that she wanted the audience to see her character as a friend who wants to let other friends have experiences, but watches out for them at the same time.

The audience went wild throughout every scene, especially when the White Rabbit, played by Alexa Hall, darted back and forth across the stage, dressed in lacy lingerie and wearing shiny blue ears.

“My favorite part was when the caterpillar hit on Alice,” said Boshion Crandall, a freshwoman.

The Caterpillar, played by junior Stacey Fisher, was in “The Mushroom Circuit Party” night club scene. In it, blinking lights illuminated the word “mushroom,” which arched over the entrance. Rave music played and two strippers wearing black tape over their chests danced atop black boxes. Dancers flooded the stage, wearing green glow rings around their necks. Wallace continually played with Alice’s use of the word “queer.”

“Winnie [Wallace] typecast the caterpillar as mind boggling in a sexual way versus having the hookah,” said Fisher, who also designed the zany costumes.

The play’s director, Albin, said that though she will be taking over as director for future productions, she owes everything to Wallace and Laufer, who are graduating this year.

Mills Players will next perform “Agnes of God” in the spring.