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|Revisionist ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has outsider appeal|
|by Jim Farmer|
|May 25, 2012 00:00|
As Brian Clowdus prepares to open his new summer season at Serenbe Playhouse next week, the openly gay artistic director of the troupe is particularly proud of the new take on “Alice in Wonderland” his company is unveiling.
He promises a version of the classic that audiences have never seen.
Based on the Lewis Carroll story, Rachel Teagle’s revisionist version retains the central characters but throws a curve into the action. Here, young Alice comes across a band of actors in her journey, all wearing masks, and she becomes the main character in a story that they dream up. Part of what Clowdus and Teagle wanted to do with this new take was to make Alice less passive in the story – and give her more to do.
Clowdus feels gay and lesbian audiences in particular can relate to the lead character. He feels the character of Alice is very much an outsider.
“She is beautiful, gorgeous, but she doesn’t know that,” he says. “She has no friends. She just doesn’t fit in with others and has no belief in herself. This is very much her coming of age story, about how the events she faces gives her both self-empowerment and confidence.
“We can all relate to this. I think Alice wants to be a tomboy — who can’t identify with the idea of parents trying to making their children into something they are not?”
The director was open to casting an adult in the lead role but came across young Skylar Nicholson, who has a TV career on her own, and knew she was his Alice.
The two actors who play the characters of Tweedledee and Tweedledum are both gay, says Clowdus, and he calls those two characters somewhat flamboyant.
Clowdus started his company in 2009 and this is the third season. Last year he presented “The Ugly Ducking,” another revisionist take on a classic. This time the stage was a lake instead, with the main character coming in and out of the water. He staged that show as a result of all the bullying that had been going on locally and nationally.
If there’s a theme to this season, it’s about dreams.
“Alice is left to wonder – was this real or all just a dream,” Clowdus says.
Following “Alice in Wonderland” will be William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and then the gay-themed “Time Between Us,” a regional premiere by Brett Schrier which will star Clowdus.
‘Jersey Boys’ returns to ATL
The Broadway Across America 2011-2102 season is ending with “Jersey Boys,” the crowd favorite that won a 2006 Tony for Best Musical.
Its first Atlanta engagement was very successful so it has returned for a multi-week run.
The story of Frankie Vallie and the formation of the band Four Seasons not only has a lot of terrific music (“Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and many more) but has a gay theme as well. The unofficial fifth member of the band was Bob Crewe, who wrote much of the music alongside Bob Gaudio, and served as the band’s manager as well.
Crewe was openly gay, a rarity in the rock and roll industry then, and his band mates had no problem at all with him or his male partners.
Top photo: Skylar Nicholson stars as Alice in Serenbe Playhouse’s revision visit to Wonderland. (courtesy Serenbe Playhouse)
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