Imagine a world in which Peter Pan and Alice are brother and sister, he off to his Neverland, she into her Wonderland, the entire tale imagined in dance—and you have some idea of Boom Kat Dance Theatre’s NeverWonderLand, as gorgeous an evening of music and visual imagery as I’ve seen since Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands.

That’s not to say the NeverWonderLand has even a fraction of Edward’s budget, nor does its talented young cast have the extensive dance training of Bourne’s New Adventures troupe—but a gifted bunch of performers they are, actors who happen to love to dance “in their spare time” and do it quite gorgeously indeed.

The brainchild of Artistic Director Lili Fuller and Associate Director Steve Edlund, NeverWonderLand stars Fuller as Alice and Joe Sofranko as Peter, and surrounds them with characters the audience will soon recognize as the Queen Of Hearts (Juliana Tyson), Tinkerbell (Amanda Giuliano), the White Rabbit (Chris Downey), the Mad Hatter (Matthew Krumpe), Tiger Lily (Janet Krupin), Lost Boy “Toodles” (Michael Garrido), and a pirate with a hook called Captain James (Nathan Parsons of TV’s General Hospital). Peter and Alice’s parents (Sarah Haworth and Cory Bretsch) and assorted others (Nolan Chung, Lizzie Fabie, Megan Harvey, Rachel Hershee) complete the cast.


The prodigiously talented Fuller has choreographed the lion’s share of NeverWonderLand’s nearly two hours of dance, with additional choreography by Krumpe, Sofranko, Tyson, Downey, and the entire company—and exciting choreography it is. NeverWonderLand combines aspects of modern, jazz, ballet, and dance club movements, its dances emerging organically from the music being played and the story being told.

From the avant garde sounds which back the show’s exciting prologue to the neoclassical piano that accompanies Peter and Alice and family at the dinner table), the music of NeverWonderLand is indeed eclectic—staccato beats for the Door Room sequence, house music for Tinkerbell And The Fairies, otherworldly melodies for a journey into The Hall Of Mirrors, and reggae rap to set the scene for The Queen And Her Cards.


There’s not a weak link in NeverWonderLand’s cast, their dance proficiency made even more noteworthy by the fact that many if not most were/are theater and not dance majors, with Bretch’s bachelor’s degree in Science, Krupin’s in Cinematic Arts Critical Studies, and Tyson’s in Interdisciplinary Studies. From Fuller’s enchanting Alice to Sofranko’s gracefully masculine Peter to the precision polish of the entire ensemble, these are gifted young actors who have chosen to tell Alice and Peter’s story through dance.


As gorgeous as are Boom Kat Dance Theatre’s dance movements, they are only part of the magic of NeverWonderLand. Fuller’s costume designs (assisted by Glenn Carroll) are exquisitely imaginative fairy tale creations made even more stunning by Mason Barber’s dramatic, multi-colored lighting.  Edlund’s ingenious scenic design turns the Miles Memorial Playhouse proscenium into a thrust stage, bringing the action out into the audience. Deserving equal praise are Jessica Dalva’s prop design and Sofranko’s music direction.  Graphic designer Danielle Buerli has created lovely silent movie-style “title cards” in Alice’s delicate handwriting which are, unfortunately, hard to read, as the script is small and the slides not in perfect focus and turned off too quickly.  Hopefully this will be remedied.

Ashley K Singh is stage manager, Michelle Lukiman is swing and assistant stage manager, and Parmer Fuller is associate producer.  NeverWonderLand is produced by Rachel Saltzman and Narcissa Vanderlip.

Fuller’s Director’s Note describes NeverWonderLand as a “beautiful, fun, and dark story of two siblings, desperate to find their place in the world, lost between fantasy and reality.”  It’s also a very special evening of theater.

The Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica.

–Steven Stanley
July 24, 2010

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