Alice goes underground
You never know what Alice might find down the rabbit hole.
Or, in the case of "Alice Underground," what she might find when she chases a black cat with a ringing cell phone down into a netherworld mausoleum filled with mysterious, colorful characters including a crouching spider, a drunkenly lascivious vampire, a fearsome Jabberwocky and a merciless Queen of Wasps with a passion for croquet.
The creation of 2001 Steamboat Springs High School graduate Andryn Arithson, "Alice Underground" played twice this month at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret on the 16th Street Mall in Denver. Loosely based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," the macabre, but light-hearted play sends Arithson's Alice on a journey across a River Styx-like body of water into a realm inhabited by creatures of all sorts, sometimes with carved pumpkins for heads, as Alice reflects on curiosity and what it means to be alive.
Arithson, 26, began working on the script a year ago, with serious writing beginning in March. Costume creation got rolling in May.
The show's Sunday night performance filled the small theater - fittingly, underground - and drew a standing ovation from the audience after an energetic climax befitting the Halloween season: a tightly choreographed, full-cast dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
"It gets a little more silly as it goes along," Arithson said about the show. "It's just good fun."
I should say that this review, if you can call it that, is biased - I've had the fortune to call Andryn a friend for several years. She's got creative talent oozing out of her eyeballs, and the heart and effort that went into this show - from the entire cast and production team - was obvious.
Local theater fans and supporters might remember Arithson from SSHS shows seven or eight years ago, including "The Miracle Worker" (as Helen Keller), "Damn Yankees" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." She also performed in the "Signatures" production as part of Steamboat's centennial celebrations in 2000.
"A big part of my inspiration comes from doing theater in Steamboat," she said, citing the impacts of SSHS and Perry-Mansfield drama instructors Randy and Nina Cochran.
Friends and others interested might get a chance to catch "Alice Underground" this fall - Arithson is feeling out another performance at Lannie's.
- Mike Lawrence