Lichfield Garrick Theatre & Studio

4.7/5 based on 855 reviews
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With The Lichfield Garrick Artistic and Musical Director, Adrian Jackson, at the helm it’s no surprise that the overall setting of this show is very much rooted in musical theatre rather than pantomime.

It is billed as a Christmas Circus Musical and with theatres across the region trying to outdo each other with alternative seasonal outings, it seems the rush to be bigger and better has possibly diminished the fun atmosphere, preferring a more formal level of production.

There are overtones of the big West End shows, Disney, Hollywood musicals, variety and the Circus and although those elements are well-staged and segued it does make for a slightly unfocused production.

Steve Huison of Coronation Street and the film The Full Monty fame plays the White Rabbit and effectively linked Alice’s journey through wonderland, although you would not have known it was him under the layers of costume and makeup.

Alice played by newcomer Laura Baldwin has a fantastic Disney quality to her voice and set against some quality arrangements, played live by the excellent Wonderland band, created some spell binding moments through the evening and can be proud of her first professional role.

Alice in Wonderland is directed by Ian Adams who also plays The Caterpillar, The Duchess and the Mad Hatter and for me was the highlight of the show. His vibrant personality, dancing and showmanship added a true Christmas flavour, offering the closest we got on the night to a Panto Dame when appearing as The Duchess during the wonderful Latin American kitchen scene.

Christina Thornton, like many others in the cast, played multiple roles, hers being Alice’s Mother, The Cook and The Queen of Hearts. Being an original member of the cast of Evita and now with a long list of musical credits to her name, proved how much this show relies on elements of musical theatre. Her delivery was assured, mature and confident.

A great part of the staging was the use of a revolving turntable, doubling visually as a circus ring, which delivered an assortment of props and occasionally some of the wonderful young children in the production on to stage in a variety of comical disguises.

The choreography throughout by Julie Paton was of a very high standard ranging from contemporary ballet to a couple of great tap dance routines.

Another high point was the sound. This for me is often a let-down of so many professional touring shows and the in-house Garrick team seemed to have benefitted from having the time to develop a great balance between the orchestra and the vocalists.

Although it is billed as a family show it is a production that clearly caters for a sophisticated theatre audience more so than young children and it would have been nice to see a little more raw comedy to include them at some point.

Make no mistake this is a highly coordinated and professional show with great costumes and staging and it’s marvellous to see and hear this level of West End quality out of London. It is also commendable to offer something different to the traditional panto but other than the inclusion of a tree and few other Christmas props this is a show that would most likely be successful in any month and I guess I was hoping at this time of the year for a bit more wonder in wonderland.
Jeff Grant
Slick, professional and thoroughly entertaining are the words which describe this musical production of Alice in Wonderland.

A talented cast brought the children’s classic to life with an impressive two storey stage, which included a hidden elevator to help tell the complex tale of Alice and the rabbit hole.

Fantastic choreography and costumes, pyrotechnics, acrobatics, ballet, tap and ribbon dancing, balloons which fell into the audience, stairs that illuminated when trodden on and festive Garrick favourite Ian Adams with his slapstick comedy as the Mad Hatter, caterpillar and the Duchess, kept my young children, aged five and seven, entertained.

Laura Baldwin was a perfect Alice, Christina Thornton was a fabulous Queen of Hearts and Steve Huison entertained as the rabbit.
Justine Halifax
Well ho ho ho, suddenly it’s that time of year again, so I took myself off to Lichfield’s Garrick theatre to see what their team there have come up with in the way of festive fare for 2012.

They’ve got a great track record for seasonal entertainment, but the big question was could they top their own past successes?

Well I’m glad to report that this year’s crowd-pleaser Alice in Wonderland is an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular with a circus theme that’s light, bright, full of colour and good humour, and just what the doctor ordered.

Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel is a potentially difficult choice for a show that’s aimed at all ages. Its apparent nonsense masks a profound discussion of maths and logic but the good news is generations of children have loved the story without needing to get in too deep. And there’s plenty to like in this adaptation with its wealth of memorable characters and ridiculous situations.

First there’s a really first rate on-stage orchestra conducted by the Garrick’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director Adrian Jackson - he plays the Hanging Judge too. Then there’s Garrick favourite Ian Adams (who adapted the book and directs) as the Caterpillar, the Duchess and of course the Mad Hatter. Then there’s a lovely young Alice in the shape of Laura Baldwin, unbelievably in her first professional role who acts with poise, dances with verve and sings like a West End star. Steve Huison, best known recently as Corrie’s Eddie Windass links the show together as the White Rabbit with effortless aplomb.

Add in all the other much-loved characters from the Dormouse (aah) to the Cheshire Cat in an endless array of colourful costumes and you’ve got a non-stop show of singing, dancing and comedy.

Yes, they’ve done it again.
Quite simply, this is a stunning show - a quality production from start to finish that more than justifies the massive gamble by Ian Adams and Adrian Jackson to tackle the Lewis Carroll classic in this way.

For here we have a musical set in a circus, allowing director Adams, who plays a delightful Mad Hatter and other parts, to tap into numerous genres of stage and big-top entertainment with a wonderfully talented cast of young actors, singers and dancers.

From curtain up, the place is a-buzz with fast-paced action that appeals to all ages. We are treated to tightrope walking, juggling, tap-dancing, ballet and even a spot of good old-fashioned panto.

Every moment offers something new to delight the audience but far from being a series of unconnected turns, the story of Alice is played out faithfully, with recently graduated Laura Baldwin doing a truly wonderful job in the title role.

John Brooking’s super set, which incorporates a revolving stage, is on a split-level, with a top-class, seven-piece orchestra, conducted by musical director Adrian Jackson, occupying the first floor.

The lavish props and costumes are the icing on the cake of this magnificent show which, frankly, deserves a run in a major venue.
Neil Bonner
Have enjoyed all the shows I have seen there
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In June 2016
Margaret said

Friendly, helpful staff. Very good shows. Nice atmosphere.