Performers gather this week to rehearse for the 7th annual dance theatre production by the Whaingaroa Youth Movement, Wonderful Underland. Loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, is reminiscent of the magic conjured up in the enchanted tale by Lewis Carroll. “Beneath the branches of a magical tree, live creatures that witness the journey of a stranger, she appears alone, but along the path, is met by curious characters. Although mystifying, each visit leads Alice closer to understanding her place amongst them”

Under the careful guidance of director and producer, Patti Mitchley, the wee, the little and the not so wee, dancers weave and whoop their way through complicated routines with smiles so Cheshire wide they belie the level of concentration required. Buoyed along by a fine selection of tunes, the enjoyment by all is so infectious it’s stonking… be prepared to get your groove on!

A sneak preview of some of the costumes revealed ethereal layers of luminous fabrics designed by Kartika Leng and Rebecca Dowling. Set designer Donald Tweedie has created an enormous tree, brought to surreal life with lighting by Al Williamson. Rehearsal director Marie Hermo-Jensen, a professional dancer from Norway, is on hand to fine tune technical aspects of the performance and the combined experience of both Marie and Patti allows for a fluid process in which each child is encouraged to shine.

Which is an organic approach, really, to the moral of this story — it is a coming of age tale about finding your own way. You’ll get there — of course – but the journey is the people that guide you along the way.

Wonderful Underland playing this weekend at the Town Hall, Saturday 11th 2pm and 7 pm — Sunday 12th 2 pm. Adults $8, Tamariki $5. Brought to you by Whaingaroa Youth Movement and whanau, Waikato District Council and Creative Communities Funding Scheme. See you there.

Brenda Rae Kidd