Meet The Queen of Today!

I’ve been cast at the Queen of Today. At this point in the production process I’ve had a discussion with the director, Dominic, about my character. To help me develop my character, I’ve decided to write this blog post from her perspective. So, please, let me introduce to you, The Queen of Today!

Greetings to you all, my beautiful friends!   My name is The Queen of Today. I thought it would be lovely to write to you  and tell you a little about myself, before we finally meet in Wonderland this  Christmas.  I was born in a faraway land, to a family of magic and of many girls! I am  one of thirteen sisters, and from a young age we all spent many a night  learning the ways of magic. I'm sure you know of my sisters; we have all  since grown up to become quite well renowned in the magical kingdoms.  One of my sisters, Glinda, made her way to the Munchkin Country of Oz.  I visited her not so long ago, and my, what a powerful Good Witch she has  grown up to be! Another of my sisters, who often played with frost magic as  a child, is now The Snow Queen. I’m sure there isn’t a tale told in which one  of my sisters hasn’t played her part, for good or…otherwise.  But enough about them, “What about you, oh beautiful one?” I hear you  ask. Well, I made my way here, to Wonderland, where I am crowned the  Queen of Today. I've been made to feel so welcome by the Wonderlanders,  however, I am not the only queen here; there is another, the Queen of  Hearts. Perhaps you’ll meet her too.  I should warn you however; my Wonderland is not what it once was, nor  am I for that matter. A great power has spread over the land and we are  caught in an eternal winter. It is cold and time has been meddled with. I  have heard whisper of the villainous Jack Frost and Icy Jill. There have also  been whisperings, however, of a hero! A hero I hope will come and save us  from this winter and bring Wonderland back to its former glory.  It will be a great pleasure to welcome you to Wonderland this Christmas.  I cannot wait to see you. Until then, I bid you farewell.    Stay Wonderful! The Queen of Today.
A letter from The Queen of Today, by Jack Tullin.

Jack Tullin, playing The Queen of Today.

Meet Alice!


When I saw I was playing Alice I couldn’t quite believe it! I screamed the house down even though it was 10am (sorry neighbours!) but in all seriousness I was overwhelmed and humbled to be chosen as Alice, and to be a part of what is going to be a truly magical and amazing show with an equally amazing cast and crew.


So the first thing I did that day was I bought the original book by Lewis Carroll to see how she was portrayed. I think everyone has this image in their head of what Alice should look like; a dainty girl with blonde hair. Actually on the contrary, after reading the book I felt that at times she can be quite an assertive and fiery character who knows what she wants. Of course, there are also times where she is unsure what to do, I mean, what would you do if you landed in a strange wonderland after falling down a rabbit hole? But she meets so many extraordinary characters on the way and the originality of each character is really endearing to the reader, and this will translate to the stage as well.


I also feel like I can put my own individual spin on Alice, to show everyone that no matter who you are, what you look like, what you can or can’t do (even if you are in an unusual situation, like being in wonderland?!) that you have the power to overcome difficult problems.


I am beyond excited to start the rehearsal process, and to see the cast and crew come together to make a spell bounding Christmas show that people of all ages will enjoy. My costume is quite traditional in reference to the original book with the blue dress and white apron but again it has taken its own spin on it…if you have seen the poster…I am wearing stripy tights! The skirt is definitely my favourite bit, every girl dreams to have a full skirt and twirl around in it. When I first tried on my costume before we broke up for summer I couldn’t stop smiling! The costume designer Helen Symonds just goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations and the attention to detail is incredible…even down to the themed buttons at the back-snowflakes, rabbits and red hearts. Just wow. Wearing that dress certainly makes it easy to be Alice.


Alice's Adventures in Winter Wonderland poster, featuring Naomi French as Alice
Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland poster, featuring Alice, played by Naomi French.


Anyway, that’s me for now. Keep following the blog to keep up to date with all the exciting news that unravels about the rehearsal process and show with a few surprises too! Hmm…curiouser and curiouser…


Naomi French, playing Alice.


Composing for a Winter Wonderland.

I’ve had Dominic’s script for a couple of weeks now, but I started developing some of the musical ideas for the show over the past few months. Now I have real lyrics to set into songs and numbers. This first priority is to write the songs so that the cast have them by the first day of rehearsals. Once I’ve written the songs then I can start arranging them and creating the backing tracks. After that, and during the rehearsal process, Dominic and I will decide where we need underscoring and musical stings to accompany any action or media.

The great thing about using backing tracks is that I can write for a full orchestra and band without the players taking up half of the LPAC auditorium in performances; so I’m enjoying making Hollywood scale arrangements for our small theatre. The challenge is creating tracks that can be flexible enough to allow the cast space to perform. With that in mind, I’ll spend time with the cast on their interpretation then I will start programming in speed changes, creating loops for vamps, and splitting tracks for pauses and ad libs etc.

Once rehearsals start in September then I’ll be working with the cast, teaching them their music. I can’t wait for that; I’ll finally hear my music jump off the page and come to life!

In terms of a musical style for the show, I have pretty eclectic tastes and believe that for music to serve the stage it should draw on anything that enhances the performance. I’ve been inspired by a number of elements in the Alice narrative: transformation, other states of normality, the fantastical and nonsense poetry of Lewis Carroll’s world made me think of, among others, two strong musical idioms: The psychedelic rock of the 1960s and bitonal French 6th Chord, with its transformative nature. Alice is enticed into Wonderland by the cast calling her name spelling out the notes of the magical chord that can live in many keys at once and none in particular at the same time. Similar to Wagner’s famous Tristan Chord, it disturbs our musical equilibrium and invites us into an ever-changing soundscape.

The Mad March Hare and the Mad Hatter enjoy a crazy duet in a whirligig of psychedelia: cue Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds-like guitars and organs as well as a twist of Gilbertian patter song. Tiger Lilly and Alice have a playful duet based on word games while the Tweedle twins enjoy a slap-stick Music Hall number. I particularly loved writing the Pig’s Song. It’s a madcap world but as W H Auden said: “No [music theatre] plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.”

Mark Wilde, Composer and Musical Director

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

“So many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things were really impossible!”


It’s the middle of summer and although Christmas is the last thing on most people’s minds we’re already planning our Christmas show! This year we will be putting on Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland, and although it is based on the classic novel that we all know and love, this will be a retelling with a wintery twist.


We’re right at the start of the production process, so before we meet Alice and explore our Winter Wonderland through this series of blog posts, let’s look at Lewis Carroll’s original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Lewis Carroll, actually named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, most notable for his successful writing career, was also a mathematician, logician, and photographer. He has been dubbed as the Einstein of the ‘literary nonsense’ genre; his whimsical, quirky and eccentric writing style has inspired our Christmas show, which draws inspiration from both novels.


The story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland originated in the mid-nineteenth century, on a boat trip, where a little girl named Alice Liddell, daughter of Lewis Carroll’s friend Henry Liddell, asked Carroll to tell her a story. What then emerged were the beginnings of one of the most influential and iconic tales of all time, and when Carroll’s friend George Macdonald presented the incomplete manuscript to Macmillan Publishers, Carroll’s story transformed.


Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds herself in Wonderland, a fantastical place with talking animals. The adventure unfold as a dream-like series of nonsensical scenes, in which Alice is questioned by a Caterpillar, has a tea party with the Mad Hatter and plays a chaotic game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts. To top it all off, Alice is betrayed by her body which grows to the size of a giant at the most inconvenient of times and gets her into lots of trouble.


After the success of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll went on to write the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Alice walks through a mirror to an alternative land, laid out like a giant chess board. The narrative is more structured than in the previous novel, in that the Red Queen challenges Alice to play her way to the eighth rank of the board to be crowned queen. On her way she meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, the White Queen and the Red Knight. The world is vividly imagined by Carroll, with its own folklore, such as the poem about the Jabberwocky.


We will be reimagining this childhood favourite story for Christmas, so expect tea parties, the White Rabbit and magical potions… with a few of our own ideas thrown in too!


Our next blog post will be from Craig Morrow, Artistic Director for Lincoln Performing Arts Centre and Producer for Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland. Craig will be blogging about what excites him as a theatre producer and some of the decisions made, and considerations involved, in our production.


Caitlin Clark, Arts Marketing Intern

Our New Season is Here!

As I type this, our new season brochure is at the printers and the shows will be going on sale shortly – it certainly is a busy time of year!


Following the success of last year’s The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, which played to a sell out crowd, we wanted to visit another magical land that appeals to both boys and girls. Because we’re exploring these stories at Christmas it also feels right to introduce a festive element to the proceedings, and like many great winter myths we’ve introduced a villain with a dastardly control of the elements – Jack Frost.


Dominic Symonds, our director from last year, is back in the hot seat but this time he’s writing the script as well. He’s done a really clever adaptation of the story, taking the structure of Through The Looking Glass and fusing it (or should I say freezing it) with Jack Frost’s plans to stop time and transform Wonderland into an icy kingdom. If you’d like to find out more about Lewis Carroll and the original stories, read Caitlin’s blog post.


Can Alice find the White Rabbit, defeat Jack Frost and get back home in time for Christmas? We’ll have to wait and see but I think, with our expert creative team on-hand to realise Dominic’s artistic vision, the audience is in for a real treat as we bring the play to life.  Without giving too much away, we’ll be using the whole theatre for the performace, and I mean the whole space, right the way up to the roof, exploring the potential for flying actors through the auditorium…. It’s this flexibility as a venue that really excites me as a theatre producer, as it gives us a unique opportunity to engage with audiences in a way that is different to more traditional productions.


Once again we’ll be turning the space into an in-the-round theatre which adds to the intimacy of the performance and places you right at the heart of the action. It’s a challenge in terms of visual effects as there’s nowhere to hide anything, but it’s one our production designer Myk Hoyle is excited to get his teeth stuck into and we’ll be posting initial designs on the blog very soon, along with costume and make-up concepts from Helen Symonds.


Indeed, up until now it’s all been about the early stage prep work, but now it’s all systems go, as the cast start rehearsing from September (which will come around very quickly).


The cast is made up of final year undergraduate Drama students studying Theatre for Young Audiences, with the Christmas Show providing a unique opportunity for them to perform within a professional environment prior to graduation. They all auditioned for a role back in Easter and they really are a talented bunch. We’ve already had a photoshoot with Naomi French – who plays Alice – and I’m sure you’ll agree that she definitely looks the part already! You’ll get to hear from some of the cast about their experience on the blog once rehearsals start.

Naomi French as Alice in photo shoot for Alice's Adventures in Winter Wonderland.
Naomi French as Alice in photoshoot for Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland.


In the meantime do check back here regularly as we upload more sneaky peeks behind the scenes and interviews with the creative team.


I hope you enjoy following our blog in the run up to Christmas. Please share your feedback, thoughts and questions in the comments section on this blog.


See you soon!

Craig Morrow, Producer

Artistic Director for Lincoln Performing Arts Centre