Secret supper club leads diners down the rabbit hole

Secret supper clubs are all the rage, so we’ve heard (we’ve never found one). Right now, somewhere in Vancouver, the Swallow Tail Supper Club is entertaining diners with fine food, cocktails, and live entertainment on a Wonderland theme. Local blogger Ariane Colenbrander seems to be in on the secret:

The evening starts at the outskirts of a moonlit forest, where guests are greeted by a frantic White Rabbit, who ushers them down the rabbit hole, to a nostalgic world of childhood fairytale characters. The Mad Hatter pours tea and soup is served in a “Drink Me” bottle labeled either “Big” or “Small”. The bottle guests drink from will determine their next course. More...

According to the same blog, celebrity chef and Food Network star Bob Blumer may also be involved, though it is not clear how. The supper club will be operating for only a few more days—they don’t seem to be sold out yet. Tickets cost $129 a head.
Tenniel's Leg of Mutton


The Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Wonderland

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet has just finished their premiere run of a new “Wonderland” choreographed by Shawn Hounsell at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall. It was there till March 13th, but it will now begin a worldwide tour of Canada, ending at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, April 28th to 30th. Paula Citron’s dance review in The Globe and Mail has a nice headline: The story wanders, but ‘Wonderland’ looks wonderful. Was she expecting a linear plot in a ballet adaption of Lewis Carroll? Here’s Citron’s critique:

…The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s new production of Wonderland, however, is both ambitious and flawed – the work is a technical triumph, but it falters in content. Montreal-based choreographer Shawn Hounsell has approached Alice from two sides. On one, the book’s favourite characters are given their rightful place on the stage, which provides both whimsy and humour. (There are also a couple of surprise cameo appearances.)

On the darker side, Hounsell has made Alice (Jacelyn Lobay) an older woman who is looking back through the rabbit hole at her dreamlike journey. That fantasy allows her to escape the mundane, but at the end of a second visit comes the reality check: Alice, and humankind in general, cannot escape into fantasy forever.

Hounsell’s problem is that, while he has fashioned Carroll’s famous characters with some skill, he has not really been able to portray the more serious parts of his vision. There is rather a disjointed quality to the choreography, and the voiceover text, while helpful, does not completely fill in the gaps. [Continue reading here.]

I wonder if adapters will ever tire of the older-Alices-returning motif, or if it’s chronically perennial? Here’s a little more of her review:

Beloved ballerina Tara Birtwhistle, looking like a 1980s Lady Gaga [What? -Ed.] with platinum hair, bright red bell bottoms and an Elizabethan collar, is a harridan of a Queen of Hearts. Using her megaphone, she shouts a stream of insults and orders, and of course her trademark “Off with their heads!” In my favourite line, she chastises the orchestra for playing too many notes.

There’s some more glowing review quotes from the RWB’s blog here.

And RWB has a series of videos about their Wonderland:

A Year In Wonderland | Episode 1 – Part 1 from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet on Vimeo.


Riddle: What kind of cat can grin?

"A hanging chain forms a Caternary", image from Wikipedia

Answer: A Caternary

The best jokes are the ones you have to look up the answer on Wikipedia to get. I prefer the one that postures “Which would a logician chose: between poutine or eternal bliss?” Poutine: because nothing is better than eternal bliss, and poutine is better than nothing.

The caternary joke was in the Canadian magazine Queen’s Quarterly, in their Fall 2010 issue (Vol. 117). (The QQ magazine we assume is like GQ but for a much smaller demographic.) The 22-page article by Canadian author David Day was called “Oxford in Wonderland.” It’s not available online, but here is a summary from the QQ website:

From the beginning, it was apparent that beneath the fairy tale level of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland there was a strong element of autobiography and satire of mid-Victorian society. It was fairly obvious that the characters and places in Wonderland had a counterpart in Oxford. All of Lewis Carroll’s biographers and literary critics delve to some degree into this kind of historical “Who’s Who” of the Alice books. Some of these Carroll identified himself; others he was at pains to keep secret. Nevertheless, if we walk carefully in Alice’s footsteps, some fascinating new characters will step into the light. It began “all in a golden afternoon” with a real boating excursion on July 4, 1862, on the Isis, a branch of the Thames River passing though Oxford, when two young college dons rowed and picnicked with three pretty adolescent girls on their journey upriver from Folly Bridge to Godstow village.

For much of the magazine spread, Day identifies many of the historical persons whom Day believes Wonderland characters were based upon, various Oxford personalities and friends of Carroll. For instance, his Cheshire Cat identification:

from "Oxford in Wonderland" by David Day, Queen's Quarterly (vol 117 - Fall 2010)


Screening of McLeod’s Alice in Wonderland (1933) in Vancouver this Weekend

Do we have any readers in Vancouver? Near Vancouver? I don’t know, but if we do they should go to Vancity Theatre – the Vancouver International Film Center – on Sunday to see a rare screening of Norman Z. McLeod’s Alice in Wonderland from 1933. See Cary Grant as you have never seen him before – totally concealed inside a giant mock turtle suit!

From the Vancity Theatre website:

“Extravagant all-star assaults on the work of Lewis Carroll – like the forthcoming Tim Burton-Johnny Depp movie – are nothing new, as this rare item from the vaults of Paramount Pictures goes to show. With a screenplay by Joseph L Mankiewicz (All About Eve) and designed by William Cameron Menzies (Gone with the Wind), this has considerable pedigree even before you check out the cast list.

“But what a cast it is! WC Fields steals the show as Humpty Dumpty, but underneath splendid (if uncomfortable-looking) costumes you may also recognize the voices of Cary Grant as the mock turtle, Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter, Gary Cooper is the White Knight, and Edna May Oliver as the Red Queen. Curiouser and curiouser, it has never been released on DVD or VHS.”

Alice in Wonderland, Sunday, January 10th, 2.30pm. All ages.
Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 3M7