Created for The Royal Ballet in 2011, this production is unlike anything we have seen before in ballet. Along with a wonderful score to set the dance. In terms of production values, costumes, scale, set design and projection manipulation and optical illusions, the puppetry all enhancing the magic. This show has to be seen to be believed.

Back from a sell out season in 2019, I cannot commend it highly enough for all the theatrical and dance spectacle on offer. The audience were engaged from start to finish. We go down the rabbit hole to follow Alice through the realms of her adventures chasing the White Rabbit who began in the garden party as Lewis Carroll. We are also taken on an emotional journey, through anxieties and fears and most often her bravado and willingness to play with whatever happens next. 

Sharni Spencer as Alice kept all in her thrall. Her dance complete and her energy so youthful and dynamic. She was all at once in danger and still overcoming all challenges with ease. Her teasing White Rabbit was also her saviour throughout splendidly danced by Brett Chynoweth. The compassion for Jack/Knave of Hearts was powerfully shared with the audience in the compelling performance of Jarryd Madden and their duets.

I will make mention also of two performances from the ensemble of characters, that of the Cook with her consistent characterisation played/danced by Larissa Kiyoto-Ward and the magnificent dance skill of the green frog Yichuan Wang.

Magical scale changes for the settings and a puppet Cheshire cat to split and re-form as only the story would have it. Sets and Costumes by award winning Bob Crowley are so intricate and detailed, so exotic for one setting and terrifyingly drab the next. The slinky diamond encrusted caterpillar reminiscent of an ancient empire, then the Queen of hearts robotically manoeuvred about the stage to the sweetest hedgehogs as croquet balls you could ever imagine.

Alice follows the rabbit as her guide, but her own heart seeks the knave of hearts and tarts. So much of the known tale is splendidly told in dance narrative and aided magnificently by a score so powerfully crossing time.


Choreography – Christopher Wheeldon

Music Jody Talbot

Orchestrated by Christopoher Auston and Jody Talbot

Scenario Nicholas Wright

Set and Costume Design Bob Crowley

Lighting design Natasha Katz

Projection designs Jon Driscoll and gemma Carrington

Puppet concept and design Toby Olie. The production was commissioned and first performed by The Royal ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. The Kenneth R Reed Fund has generously supported the recreation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for The Australian Ballet. It is a co production between The Australian ballet and the National Ballet of Japan.

Production photography by Daniel Boud

Playing Sydney at the Capitol Theatre 20 Feb – 5 March 2024 (before moving to Melbourne)


Review by Elizabeth Surbey