Arts & Culture

A ‘WONDROUS’ RETURN

Katherine Blauvelt stars as Alice and Ryan Vasquez is the White Rabbit in ‘Alice’s Wondrous Adventure.’
Katherine Blauvelt stars as Alice and Ryan Vasquez is the White Rabbit in ‘Alice’s Wondrous Adventure.’ DANIELLE DUTRO PHOTOGRAPHY

Kelrik Productions and its director Erik Austin have come home to the Central Coast after moving to San Diego for a while. The theater community welcomes the company back, as it has a knack for creating family shows that are fun for adults on one level and for youngsters on another.

“Alice’s Wondrous Adventure” is such a production. Everyone can appreciate the delightful costumes and the colorful set, featuring giant playing cards in a fantasy forest. As sweet Alice encounters the zany Lewis Carroll characters, the actors take them to comic heights that will make adults laugh, too.

Kelrik presented a show based on “Alice in Wonderland” in 2007, and a few of the actors who were in that one are in this one, too, but some are in different roles.

It’s always interesting to watch young actors grow into new roles. Alice is played by Katherine Blauvelt, who nearly stole the previous show as the sleepy Dormouse. She was a fourth-grader then. Now she is a lovely young lady, just right for the role of the bewildered Alice, meeting characters from both “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.”

Ryan Vasquez is the White Rabbit, and he has perfected a rabbit hop that carries him throughout the action, even up and down stairs, on-and offstage. Alice is befriended by the Cheshire Cat, played well by Brie Leatham as perhaps the sanest of the Wonderland inhabitants — in spite of fading in and out of the picture.

Sandy Schwarer is an imposing figure as the Duchess, and Jean Miller is a kick as her cranky cook. Lester Wilson, in a great costume, is the Caterpillar. He also plays Tweedle Dum. Director Austin is Tweedle Dee, and their routine is the funniest in the show, as they duel with feather dusters and recite the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”

Much of the dialogue is directly from the original story, and the actors make the most of its ditzy charm and illogical logic, especially at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Chris Dixson is a mad Mad Hatter, and young Jayce Garcia is cute as the dozing Dormouse who gets bounced around and turned upside down. Randy Pound is good as the March Hare, but even better as the Queen’s Executioner, a role he obviously relishes, giving the character a creepy comic persona.

Debora Schwartz and Matthew Ambrose reprise their roles as the Queen and King of Hearts. Schwartz takes nastiness to new heights during the croquet game, with flamingos as mallets. She loves to scream, “Off with his head!” Ambrose is good as her dominated spouse.

The terrific costumes are by Keith Wetzel, Costume Capers, and music is by Stephen Tosh.

The theater at Unity has been transformed into a tea party in the queen’s garden, with the audience seated at tables with juice in teapots and plates of cookies. The costumed characters go from table to table before the show begins, visiting with patrons.

The show is a manic hour long, and there’s no need to worry about attention span — there’s something intense going on all the time. Because of the seating arrangement, space is limited in the small theater, so reservations are advised.

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