INTERVIEW: The cast of Alice in Winterland on magic, monsters & motivation

This Christmas, Rose Theatre Kingston are staging an adaption of Lewis Carroll’s famous books, combining both Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass, and setting them in a frozen world. Alice in Winterland is performed by a cast of 30; we chatted to a few of the actors to find out more about the show…

Amanda Gordon (Mother/Cheshire Cat); Susannah van den Berg (Aunt Margaret/Queen of Hearts); Elly Roberts (age 18, White Rabbit); Gaia Mondadori (age 16, Alice); Billy Rilot (age 13, Tweedledum)

  1. What made you keen to join the cast of Alice in Winterland?

Amanda Gordon: It’s an interesting and exciting reimagining of the Alice books for the 21st century. I wanted to work with the terrific creative team and I love working with youth companies.

Gaia Mondadori: I have been part of the Rose Youth Theatre since I was 12 and fell in love with the Rose and the team. Having been in a Rose Christmas production before I was eager to be part of the magic again. The cast spends so much time together that we do become one big family with lots of laughter, tears, and of course fun!

  1. What is Alice in Winterland about?

Amanda Gordon: A girl finding herself through adversity. How to discover the warrior within!

Elly Roberts: Alice in Winterland is ultimately about bravery. Alice witnessed her parents’ bravery during the war, which motivates her on her quest to save Wonderland from an eternal winter. Our heroine shows how we can all be courageous even in the most difficult situations.

  1. Tell us a bit about your characters and what are you enjoying most?

Susannah van den Berg: The Queen of Hearts is a delicious megalomaniac, rather like a modern day dictator. I’m finding her such fun to play because she has no limits. I have the ability to be as silly or outrageous as I like because my court allows me to get away with anything. Like anyone in great power, the chance of being overthrown is always present so I’ve chosen to rule by fear.

Billy Rilot: My character is Tweedledum, he is a loving fool, who is not too bright and is devoted to his twin sister even though they squabble. I enjoy playing Tweedledum because I get to do lots of clown work.

  1. What particular challenges does this role present to you as an actor?

Amanda Gordon: Finding the nuances and aspects of life as Mother, mirrored in the Cheshire Cat within the insane world of Wonderland. Floating! Oh, and losing my head!

Susannah van den Berg: Vocally it’s a big role – lots of shouting “Off With Their Heads” – so sustaining that will be a big task. Delivering a pretty spectacular battle scene whilst wearing a massive dress is also going to be challenging!

  1. Alice in Winterland, is based on Lewis Carroll’s timeless books, Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Why do you think these characters have such an enduring appeal?

Amanda Gordon: The characters are bonkers and the chance for reinterpretation is endless.

Elly Roberts: The best thing about Carroll’s characters is that they’re all so real! We all know a Mad Hatter in the form of a dad or a crazy teacher, a Dormouse in a child who’s always falling asleep, or the Tweedles in siblings, or cousins. I think we can find all of them, particularly Alice, in ourselves.

  1. The production sees a professional cast and a youth company perform together. What has it been like working alongside Rose Youth Company?

Susannah van den Berg: Really fantastic. They have such great energy and focus that could shame some other professional companies! Working with two separate casts is a joy as a performer as you get different performances to play off, meaning no show will be the same. The company really works as a true ensemble, they are generous to each other and there are no small parts. Slotting into a company like this is incredibly exciting.

  1. And what has it been like working alongside professional actors?

Elly Roberts: Working with the professional actors has given us a standard to aspire to and motivated us to become the best performers we can be. What’s been so brilliant is that the whole company treat each other with the same level of respect – the professional actors make us feel like we are on their level.

  1. Why do you think people should come and see Alice in Winterland?

Susannah van den Berg: The story is incredible and the families who come to see it will go on a real journey with Alice. There’s puppets, magic, monsters, a new script with an electrifying original score, some terrible jokes, beautiful costumes and scenery, and snow… there’s definitely snow. Entertaining yet life affirming.

Gaia Mondadori: Because the production presents a heroine (at last!) who is coming to terms with grief and acceptance and these universal themes apply to everyone, no matter what age. It is a fun, uplifting Christmas show that allows you to step into a magical world.

Alice in Winterland will be at Rose Theatre Kingston from Thursday 7 December – Sunday 7 January. Book online, by phone: 020 8174 0090, or from the Box Office.


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