Q&A: Alice In Wonderland

Tara Rosling on becoming Alice in new Shaw Festival production

Adapted for the stage by Peter Hinton
Music by Allen Cole
Based on the book by Lewis Carroll
Directed by Peter Hinton
Musical direction by Allen Cole
Choreography by Denise Clarke

Tara Rosling

What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the opening of the 2016 Shaw Festival season? This year's lineup features the world premiere of Peter Hinton's Alice in Wonderland with music by Allen Cole. Written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, the well-known children's story follows Alice down a rabbit hole to a fantasy world where she embarks on an extraordinary adventure.

Here, we chat with star performer Tara Rosling about her experience working on this exciting new adaptation.

Theatromania: How would you describe Peter Hinton’s production of Alice in Wonderland in a few sentences?

TR: Peter Hinton's Alice in Wonderland is a fantastically delightful, visually stunning, and deeply poignant odyssey of a young woman reckoning with the cusp of adulthood. Peter's Alice is true to Carroll AND unlike anything you've ever seen before–I think "mind blowing" might be an apt adjective. Peter has captured Carroll's topsy turvy world abundant in wonder, whimsy and nonsense but has rooted it in a reality which is universal–the loss of childhood. It speaks to the heart and the mind, the child and the adult.

Theatromania: Were you a fan of this story growing up?

TR: Strangely, when I was a child, Alice was not a literary staple. I'd have to say that my fascination with Alice began as an adult. During a trip to Paris I stumbled upon (and became quite smitten with) Dali's illustrations for Alice In Wonderland. My boyfriend at the time gave me a pewter Alice figurine which, incidentally, has stood in the soil of one of my potted plants for the past couple of years. Hmmm... curious?! Perhaps we do reap what we sow?

Theatromania: How did you prepare to play the role of Alice?

TR: I have traipsed my way through Carroll's original many times. I've done some research into the world of the Victorians–specifically the Victorian child. I daily observe and engage with my daughter, Eliana, with intensity & enthusiasm. AND, I've been signing up for as many singing classes as possible (NEVER been in a musical before!).

Theatormania: What do you admire most about your character?

TR: Alice so beautifully embodies the essence of what it is to be a child–hence, she has many qualities I admire: her "burning" curiosity, her endearing innocence, her righteous indignation in the face of injustice, her allegiance to common sense, and her resilience and tenacity in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But above all, I am deeply intrigued by her very unique and unbelievably bright mind... I LOVE the way she articulates her inner and outer world.

Theatromania: Do you have a favourite musical number?

TR: OH MY GOODNESS–Allen Cole's compositions are so insanely fabulous that I have ALL of them swimming in my head. It is impossible to choose a favorite! If I was forced to pick one that I sing in, it would be "How Doth the Little Crocodile"–it's very naughty and ridiculously fun to perform.

Theatromania: What have you learned from working on this show so far?

TR: Rehearsals have reconstructed my perception of Alice in Wonderland... YES! It's a classic rife with fantasy and nonsense, but in Peter's hands the story has become quite heartrending... a child contending with her own sorrow and weighing the "corset of adulthood" society wishes to place upon her. I've discovered how liberating it is to inhabit (or attempt to) the skin and mind of a 10 year old. I've discovered that my imagination has not retired, but it is a bit out of shape and LOVES to come out and play. I've discovered what a rare gift I've been given ... ( she writes with a Cheshire Cat grin).

See Tara Rosling in Alice in Wonderland from April 27 to October 16, 2016 at the Festival Theatre (10 Queen's Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake). Visit shawfest.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2016-04-27 - Sun, 2016-10-16


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