Bringing Steampunk into Wonderland

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By Todd Newton

Love musicals? Soon we will have our very own student production in Macquarie University. Produced by the Macquarie Musical Society (MacMS), Alice will debut at the Lighhouse Theatre in late May this year. “It’s a contemporary Australian musical and there’s not many of those out there. It will also appeal to younger generations. So there will be references to stuff we will know about,” says Stevie Bryant, the director of the musical who co-wrote the musical with fellow Macquarie University student Joshy Said.

Bryant reveals that there will be a twist to the adaptation of the classic Disney fairytale. “The show is kind of a steampunk grunge adaptation on Alice in Wonderland, set in this weird time loop. For the show we took a ‘gears’ motif and turned it into this steampunk-y influence.” This will be achieved through the visual imagery and the music with the performance. The vibe would be similar to a Panic! At the Disco or a My Chemical Romance music video.

Quirky is certainly what Bryant wants to reflect in Alice. “I chose steampunk because it’s a bit quirky. Alice in Wonderland is also a bit quirky and we wanted to take it out of the Disney context which everyone kind of sees it as.”

The musical will be set in an industrial world with a mix of grunge, steampunk and boho costumes. A mix of props will also share the stage in different scenes. “We’ve found props everywhere: the Internet, in-stores, sometimes in people’s houses. We’ve done a couple of recycled pick-ups as well as finding rubbish to use as props on the side of streets… It’s really random, but we’ve got things from mobile phones to entire bathtubs.”

Aside from collecting the props, the process of putting on a musical is a collaborative effort. “The whole process involves a lot of talking to other people, organising rehearsals, making sure everyone is there and have things to do and making sure everyone’s filling in their roles because it’s not just down to one person, it’s a team effort. Just making sure everyone on the team is on the same page.”

It has been an intense experience for Bryant to coordinate the whole production process. “Usually you have something to go off from – for example, Chicago – you know it’s been done before. You can watch the movie, recordings or listen to the soundtrack, whereas with Alice, because it’s all new, the process is kind of starting from scratch.”

Yet the experience is also a thrilling when it comes to putting together a real-life representation of his own creation. “My writing partner and I have been writing the musical for the past three years so it’s really exciting to start putting together what’s been in our heads on to the stage… but seeing it all come to life, these characters we had on paper, are now ‘real’ characters. It’s all a bit scary but it’s fun as well.”

After three months of solid preparation, Alice will debut on 31 May at the Lighthouse Theatre until 9June. “The show lasts for two hours. It starts at 8pm, except on Sundays which starts at six… It’s better than going to the movies because you get to meet the actors and production team afterwards,” says Bryant.

[box_dark]The dates and ticketing information can be found on the MacMAS website www.macms.org.[/box_dark]