Border Concert stage welcomes ‘Alice’

Another season of Border Concerts was launched last Thursday (Oct. 9) when the New York Theatre Ballot presented “The Alice-In-Wonderland Follies” at Backus Auditorium in International Falls.
Choreographer Keith Michael used Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s classics, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” as inspiration for what was billed as a “ballet vaudeville.”
Set on a 1915 vaudeville stage to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “Alice,” the show brought to life all of the well-loved characters.
Set designer Gillian Bradshaw-Smith used moveable props and cleverly-designed modular boxes, which constantly were being rearranged on stage to create new settings.
Alice—played by Elena Zahlmann—made an unforgettable entrance by popping out of a dollhouse. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, portrayed by Dan Renkin and Joey Stocks, provided lots of zany acrobatic comedy in characters that were reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy.
Even the Caterpillar made its appearance as a vaudeville chorus line.
One of the show’s many highlights was a remarkable performance of the nonsense poem, “Jabberrwocky,” in which the entire cast recited the piece in perfect unison while maintaining a stunningly complex rhythm pattern with hands and feet.
However, it was “The Baby,” played by seven-year-old Melissa Beaver, who stole the hearts of the audience as she crawled about the stage, constantly underfoot, and finally being tossed about like a rag doll.
“The Alice-In-Wonderland Follies” was a madcap romp that gave the audience a bit of everything—classical ballet, ballroom dancing, slapstick comedy, acrobatics and tumbling, and fabulous costumes.
And all of this was backed by an equally eclectic selection of pre-1915 music, ranging from classical numbers by Schumann and Debussy to ragtime tunes.
The New York Times ranked this production “among the best of them.”
Judging from their enthusiastic response to Thursday’s show, Border Concert members would heartily agree.