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NOLA Project's 'Adventures in Wonderland' delights audiences

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Adventures in Wonderland

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The NOLA Project has done it again. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, the cutting edge company is serving up a sumptuous feast of theatre al fresco at the New Orleans Museum of Art's Walda and Sidney Besthoff Sculpture Garden. The production directed by founding artistic director Andrew Larimer features a 22-member cast playing characters culled from the texts of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass."

Written by Peter McElligott, the play is in reality three separate 80-minute plays that can each stand on its own. The three tracks are in fact interactive and pull the audience members into the larger story by focusing on one of three main female leads, each with her own distinctive color. The Blue Cheshire Cat's track is a very fast paced collection of scenes that take place at various locations within the sculpture garden and is designed to show the story of Alice (Molly Ruben Long), who wears blue.

A track with a more medium paced speed is the Red Queen's track and follows the story of Esther (Kyle June Williams), who wears red. On this track there is a coronation of the Red Queen and a series of scenes intended to familiarize the audience members with the story of the jaberwocky, a huge, deadly winged.

The more traditional play setting is that of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and its associated color of green is used to emphasize the story of Carl (Becca Chapman), the last of the trio of young girls. This is a track where audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs, because it is stationary. The other two tracks make their way to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at various times during the course of the night, finally returning for the climax at the end of the show.

Silliness and letting one's hair down is at the center of all three tracks. The Mad Hatter (Alex Martinez Wallace) and the March Hare (Keith Claverie) are absolutely histerical as the play unfolds at the pine grove for those on the green track. The Cheshire Cat played alternatively by Ross Britz and Dylan Hunter has a key role throughout the blue track. A. J. Allegra, as the White Knight, does the bidding of the Red Queen and also figures prominently on the red track.

This is a play worthy of being seen by audiences of all ages and will introduce the very young to the possibilities that abound in an immersive theatrical experience. The production continues until May 25.

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