Luckily, we’re not (nor is she, for long), as Fish and Frog — footmen to Wonderland’s addled aristocracy — bound onstage, ushering in new larks with the Duchess, Cook and a litter of roly-poly piglets to steal your heart.
So it goes in this wacky ballet, a theatrical extravaganza whose charms don’t give out until composer/conductor/first violinist Matthew Pierce plays his last note of his beautifully realized score. (Yes, he plays violin while he conducts. Talk about wonders.) Webre’s account, which draws on characters and events from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” is a giddy parade, a pop-art dream, a feat of fevered imagination. And an instant hit: All performances, which conclude Sunday, are sold out.
The work is skillfully geared to children, although adult tastes are not ignored on the menu of visual splendor. Look no further than Sona Kharatian’s hot Queen of Hearts; she’s a domineering diva lacking only a bullwhip and a pair of underpants. (Peekaboo effect courtesy of her reptilian skin-suit, which, if it were any thinner, might cause her to catch cold. Luckily, with a coterie of shirtless consorts, she has plenty of warm bodies close by.)
But I digress. In this land of wonders, cuteness abounds. If the tot-size baby flamingos (tots courtesy of the Washington School of Ballet) don’t slay you, the fuzzy, somersaulting hedgehogs surely will. There is also a crop of darling daisies. The loudest applause on opening night, in fact, went to a student: a young Junior Card at the Queen’s second-act garden party named Noah Strand, 12, who glided through his showstopping solo with the crisp footwork and grand arm gestures of a prince. (He wore lucky number seven. Of hearts, of course.)
But in every aspect — tart, adorable and everything in between — this is a work of rich and impressive creativity. It is a tour de force for Webre, who choreographed dances in all manner of styles for a spree of personages and scenes that fill nearly four pages in the printed program. But, importantly, the Washington Ballet’s artistic director also conceived this project as a collaboration, and made wise choices in his three co-conspirators: costume designer Liz Vandal and set designer James Kronzer, in addition to composer Pierce.