Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland kicks off this week at the Triple Door, and there’s no one better qualified than Jasper McCann (one half of the production duo Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann Present) to so eloquently outline what’s changed with Alice since the show’s inception. Here we share Jasper’s own thoughts on the show and what one might encounter down the rabbit hole:
~ Written by/Shared by kind permisson of Jasper McCann
Since its inception in 2009, Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland has been, for the most part, largely untouched by us as director/producers, with very little cast turnover and very little alteration. Certainly there have been little tweaks here and there: when Indigo Blue took on the role of the Mad Hatter in 2011, we retooled the Mad Tea Party to include Paris Original and Trojan Original as the Doormouse and the March Hare. The Butterfly number became a duet, and last year we introduced the Knave of Hearts into the mix. But over six years, we have never really looked back at the source material or made major alterations.
Well, this year is different.
We have had a lot of changes in the cast, and as such, Lily and I really wanted to allow the energy of the performers that are new to the show (or that have been in the show but who are now performing different roles) to give their respective characters new life. As such, we decided that this year was a great opportunity to look at the show overall and really refine it. So there are a number of changes.
First, the cast. We have two new Alices. Holly Pop will be playing “Real World Alice” (sometimes called “Good Alice” or “Blonde Alice”). Holly has been with us for a few years now, and is one of the few performers we work with that is in all three of our shows. The role of “Looking Glass Alice” (also known as “Dark Alice”) will be played by Mimi Me. Mimi is new to our world and was an understudy Snowflake for Land Of The Sweets this year. When Cookie Bellini was ill for the first week of the show, Mimi filled in… and we immediately fell in love. When she and Holly worked together, they had an indelible chemistry between them, which made them the natural choices for the Alice roles.
Tory Tiara has joined the cast of Alice this year as well. Early on there was some question as to what role she would be playing, as casting for some of the principle roles was still shaking out. Then Lily had the brilliant idea of casting Tory as Mary Anne, the woman about whom White Rabbit sings his blue tune “Pool of Tears”.
Inga Ingénue is our new Queen of Hearts! We couldn’t be more pleased. Her character work is second to none and she throws herself into whatever role we present to her. I don’t want to ruin the surprise of her number, but let’s just say that it will be a significant departure from the original.
Isobella Bloom (formerly Kylie Koyote) is our new Drink Me. Isobella has been in the show as a chandelier since 2012. She and Veruca Sapphire have splendid chemistry and the two of them are going to have more involved and challenging work playing the waitresses this year.
Juwana Heart and HonoLuLu Honey (members of Tribella) are taking on more roles as well, Juwana will be one of the Tweedle Sisters opposite Babette La Fave and LuLu will be donning the mantle of The White Queen opposite Lily in “Checkmate!”.
Washington’s own Red Delicious is joining us as a chandelier. We normally only see Red in the wintertime when she plays Tulips the Housekeeper in Land Of The Sweets, and any time around Red is delightful, so to have her with us in the springtime is a rare treat!
And last, but not least, as you know Ray Gunn will be joining us to play Cheshire Cat. Who knows what that will look like! I can’t wait.
The Story: I’ve rewritten the script to change the motivation of the Alices. We are making note of the fact that Inga was formerly Alice, so there is a little self-referencing there. Our new Alices want to be a Queen from the get-go, and The Queen of Hearts is the owner of The Looking Glass. We will see the way that former Alice became corrupted by evil in a new extended version of the Jabberwocky number. There are a few twists and turns to get Alice close to her goal with the help and advice from the staff of The Looking Glass, who are hoping desperately for a new owner to take over so that they no longer have to fear for their lives. Overall the narrative (in our opinion) is much stronger and much more defined, and we’ve allowed ourselves to explore some of the darker aspects of the original text, where in the past we shied away from including the scary stuff.
The Dances: With a lot of new cast members, Lily has had her hands full teaching choreo, but as you know, she always delivers! With new cast members (as I mentioned before) there are new opportunities to look at the characters and make changes or additions. The Alices have lots of different choreography this year to accentuate their “mirrored” relationship, the Chess number has been changed significantly, and Tory Tiara’s “solo” (another “spoiler” that I’m not going to let slip) is completely new and really elevates the drama of the White Rabbit’s blues. The entirety of the Queen of Hearts number is new and very thematic, right down to the new gown (being designed and built by the one and only Erik Andor!). Jabberwocky will also be entirely new as well, and much, much darker… but I can’t say too much about it. Don’t want to ruin the surprise.
A Song: We have removed the Strip Poker pantomime and replaced it with a new, all original song called “You’ve Got A Full House (Counting On You)”, sung by Eat Me and Drink Me! When we realized what a set of pipes Isobella had, and knowing full well Veruca’s experience in musical theater, writing a duet for them seemed mandatory. So I wrote the song and then arranged it with my friend James Chapple, who helped me arrange and score the original songs for Burlesco DiVino: Wine In Rome.