Steampunk Looking-Glass Haunted House in NYC

Alice and Steampunk both seem good ingredients to make a perfect Halloween haunted house. If you’re in New York City this week, there’s a spooky new Steampunk Haunted House at Abron’s Art Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, created by Third Rail Projects.

Following up on last year’s “Waking Nightmare,” this year, the critically acclaimed Third Rail Projects behind Steampunk borrows from author Lewis Carroll’s dark side for a show called “Through the Looking Glass.” But make no mistake; it’s not for children, and no one under 8 is admitted. The disclaimer warns that it’s “a frightening, immersive experience that winds through the theater and catacombs of the Abrons Playhouse … There will be fog effects, intense flashes of light, loud noises, lots of dust, soot, dripping pipes, churning gears, rusty metal, and other things that will hurt you if you touch them.”

The show starts on Saturday; tickets, which are available online, are $10 for students and $20 to $25 for adults, depending on the day of the week. There’s also a special Halloween party fundraiser for Third Rail on Oct. 26 that includes a cocktail reception and behind-the-scenes look at the project; those tickets are $50.

-from The Lo-Down.

Steampunk Haunted House: Through the Looking Glass from Third Rail Projects on Vimeo.

Full Schedule Posted of LCSNA Fall 2011 Meeting!

Barry Moser's Hatter

Our Fall 2011 meeting will again be at the marvelous Manhattan campus of the New York Institute of Technology, on Saturday, November 12.

Speakers include Morton Cohen on Carroll’s epiphanies; Adriana Peliano, founder of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil, on the metamorphosis of Alice in illustrations and art; Alison Gopnik on her discovery of the Iffley Yew and how Dodgson’s real life affected his works; Emily R. Aguilo-Perez on film adaptations; Jeff Menges, editor of Alice Illustrated (coming from Dover in October), on illustrators; and James Fotopoulos, an artist and film-maker who made an avant-garde film called Alice in Wonderland and will also display related art.

The full program is available here.

TimeOut’s Review of Wonderland Musical is a fantastic Jabberwocky parody

Art by John Turner of Creative Goods Design & Supply, for Wonderland, in a New York Times special feature "Adventures in Communicating a New Alice"

The reviews have been coming in all weekend for Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland: A New Broadway Musical (the musical formerly known as Wonderland: A New Musical and Wonderland: A New Musical Adventure.) Wonderland‘s website quotes the New York Times: “INSPIRATIONAL, FANCIFUL & GROOVY.” The Times’ review by Charles Isherwood was actually a bit more nuanced, but I suppose “…the desire to create a traditional narrative arc from the unruly dreamscape of Carroll’s original results in a convoluted story line pitting the good guys against the bad…” doesn’t fit on a marquee. Neither would “‘Wonderland’ transforms Alice’s surreal wanderings into a contemporary parable about reconnecting with your inner child and other watery truisms of the self-help industrial complex.” Kudos to Isherwood for pointing out that Alice’s “increasing exasperation to find her way home” is more Oz’s Dorothy than Alice: “a preoccupation that didn’t seem particularly urgent to the polite, spirited youngster in Carroll’s original.”

However, Adam Feldman’s proper panning for TimeOut New York was a spectacular parody of the Jabberwocky. It’s so good, I can’t resist posting it here in full:

’Tis Wildhorn, and the hapless cast
Does direly gambol on the stage.
All flimsy is the plot half-assed,
Not right for any age.

Beware of Wonderland, I warn!
The jokes that cloy, the scenes that flop!
Beware the humdrum words and scorn
The spurious, bland rock-pop!

The book’s a torpid bore in which
A newly single mom (Dacal)
Gets tested, see, by a journey she
Begins with quite a fall.

This modern Alice lands (ker-splat!)
In Wonderland, and banters some
With rabbit, caterpillar, cat
(In order: twee, dull, dumb).

She also meets a huffish Queen
Of Hearts (well-costumed Mason), and
A lady Hatter (Shindle, keen)
Who wishes to command.

These cartoon Carroll singers screech
The busy Wildhorn-Murphy score,
Which oft suggests a loud, high reach
At songs you’ve heard before.

A White Knight (Ritchie) does enact
A boy-band number that’s a lark—
But then comes the worst second act
Since poor Turn Off the Dark.

Act Two: Boo! Boo! And through and through
This Wonderland’s both slick and slack.
Dacal et al. can only do
So much to save the wrack.

And why has Wonderland been made?
Answer me that, director Boyd!
From captious gays to children dazed:
By all it’s unenjoyed.

’Tis Wildhorn, and the hapless cast
Does direly gambol on the stage.
All flimsy is the plot half-assed,
Not right for any age.

Thank you, Mr Feldman. If the LCSNA gave out an annual award for Jabberwocky parody (and we should, dash it all!) this would be a heavy favorite.

I’d also like to take this moment to mention that the actor playing the R&B-singing Caterpillar has an amazing name: E. Clayton Cornelious.

More of The New Yorker’s photos of The Alice-in-Wonderland Follies

New York Theatre Ballet's Alice-in-Wonderland Follies, photographed by the New Yorker's Julieta Cervantes

You might have noticed the above photo in the The New Yorker Magazine, April 11th, as the large image starting the Goings On About Town section. The picture was taken by Julieta Cervantes, a shot from New York Theatre Ballet’s Alice-in-Wonderland Follies, which ran April 8-9 at Florence Gould Hall.  The New Yorker’s listing included a short review on pg. 11 which mentioned the recent plague of Alice ballets:

Alice is all the rage these days; just last month, both the Royal Ballet in London and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet put on major new productions. New York Theatre Ballet’s staging may not be the most lavish or the most recent (it was created in 2001), but it is not without its charms. Conceived as a ballet for children, it tells the story in a vaudeville style, with a touch of soft-shoe, a soupçon of burlesque, and a just smattering of dancing on pointe—by Alice, of course. The production is witty, clever, and blessedly brief. Gillian Bradshaw-Smith’s set designs were inspired by New York’s Palace Theatre, circa 1913, and the costumes, by Sylvia Nolan (Metropolitan Opera), are imaginative and lovely.

What New Yorker Magazine would be complete without the word ‘soupçon?’ Their blog Photo Booth includes four more of Cervantes’ lovely photos from the Follies, including these two:

New York Theatre Ballet's Alice-in-Wonderland Follies, photographed by the New Yorker's Julieta Cervantes

Wonderland vs. Wonderland on Broadway?

Edward Staudenmayer (Rabbit) in Wonderland: A New Musical

Wonderland: A New Musical (formerly known as Wonderland: A New Musical Adventure) started previews today, March 21st, at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway. It stars Janet Dacal, who created the role of the “modern-day Manhattan mom named Alice” in Tampa Bay, alongside former Miss America Kate Shindle as Mad Hatter. It will open officially April 17th, assuming multiple actors don’t break bones and it gets pushed back six months.

However, there’s some other Broadway buzz which might cast a bandersnatchian shadow over the proceedings. Disney, whose Broadway franchises include the hugely successful Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, has announced they will turn their Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, the sixth highest grossing film of all time, into a Broadway Musical. And Tim Burton himself has agreed to help with the design. Linda Woolverton, who wrote the screenplay for the movie as well as the screenplay for The Lion King and the scripts for Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast and Aida, will be writing the script for this also.

If Wonderland: A New Musical is a long-running hit (as composer Frank Wildhorn’s previous shows Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel have both been), could there be dueling Wonderlands on Broadway!?

Meanwhile, here’s a “sneak peek” of the new Wonderland: A New Musical, if you can’t afford the $49-$132 ticket price.

Atomic Antelope detonates another amazing Alice app

Atomic Antelope‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland digital pop-up book for the iPad was not just a best selling app for the new tablet device, it was also one of the most innovative eBooks on the market. The New York Times ran an article last November complaining that, with the possibilities in the touch-screen age for cool interactive books, most of the releases were “boring.” The Alice pop-up was one of their “honorable exceptions.” It wasn’t just games or angry birds, it was actually the full Carroll text with the Tenniel illustrations that moved and danced as you played with them.

Guess what!? Atomic Antelope is back with more Alice, released this week. This time, her adventures are in the Big Apple.  Judging from the illustrations, it’s their variation on Through the Looking-GlassAlice in New York appears to also have something to do with physics. It’s available for $8.99 in the iTunes store. I’ll let the specs and screenshots speak for themselves:

You loved Alice in Wonderland. Now join her in New York! Touch, tilt and shake your iPad to bring this amazing book to life. Meet Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Lion and the Unicorn and dozens of other classic Lewis Carroll characters. This book is from the same publisher that created the blockbuster “Alice for the iPad”. as seen on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Take a tour of Manhattan with the Red Queen as your guide. Ride with Tweedledum and Tweedledee in their taxi. Meet the Frog and the Fawn. Ride an elevator through the Empire State building. Attend a fireworks party and eat oysters with the Walrus and the Carpenter. Plus lots, lots more.

Alice in New York is a groundbreaking adaptation. A special celebration of the 140th anniversary of Through the Looking Glass, first published in 1871. This incredible iPad book includes a new story and never-before-seen color illustrations that transport Alice from Sir John Tenniel’s original drawings and into modern New York.

Just a few highlights of this magical book:

• 140 years in the making!
• Explore New York for the first time with Alice
• Enjoy 136 beautiful digitally-remastered pages
• Feast on 27 fully interactive illustrations
• Be stunned by pictures that come to life as you tilt your iPad
• Based on a Lewis Carroll classic, with illustrations adapted from Sir John Tenniel
• Delight in the physics engine that responds to your touch

Leave us a comment if you have any opinions about the new app; we poor far-flung bloggers have no iPad.

See the new Broadway Mad Hatter: Former Miss America Kate Shindle

Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch blog posted pictures last week from the upcoming Broadway musical Wonderland, which will open in the Marquis Theatre April 17, 2011. Kate Shindle was Miss Illinois in 1997 and Miss America in 1998, and has since appeared on Broadway in Caberet and Legally Blonde.

“One of my first questions to the creative team was, ‘Why is the Mad Hatter female?’” admits Shindle about her gender-bending new role.

“It’s a cool gimmick, but it has to make sense.” And it does: This update, featuring music by veteran Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & HydeThe Scarlett Pimpernel), features a grown-up Alice who, dissatisfied with her marriage and career, takes an elevator into the bowels of Manhattan to find her missing daughter and, consequently, herself. “There are a lot of messages here,” says Shindle, who is introduced during the famous tea party sequence (pictured, top). “One is that there are forces at work within everybody and the question is what we want to let win. The Mad Hatter represents a part of Alice — I hesitate to say her dark side because she’s the fun, life-of-the-party side, but she’s also her insecurity, self-sabotage, and fear. The tea party is where Alice is introduced to the Hatter and realizes she has to reckon with that force.” What about the red pantsuit and bustle? “That’s the final showdown. It’s at a point in the show where the story might as well be over, but bad stuff, you know, just doesn’t go away quite so easily. That song is the beginning of it.”

-from Aubry D’Arminio at PopWatch

Previous posts about Wildhorn’s Wonderland since it’s been touring the counties here and here.

Alice in Slasherland

Alice in Slasherland, photograph by Jim Baldassare in the New York Times

The Vampire Cowboys Theater Company out of Brooklyn is just finishing up a run of a play called Alice in Slasherland by Qui Nguyen at the Here Arts Center (145 Avenue of the Americas, NYC). The main characters journeying thru Horror movie parodies are named Lewis and Alice, but it’s not clear how much deeper than that the Carroll framework goes. The director Robert Ross Parker summed it up best in the New York Times review: “‘It’s like the story Alice in Wonderland,’ he says, before backtracking absurdly. ‘Which this situation actually doesn’t resemble at all. Like in any way. Not even in theme. Huh. Well, I guess that was a pretty useless observation.’”