Rep’s children's musical ‘Alice in Wonderland’ 2013

Bituin Escalante, Joel Trinidad headline Rep’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’
By Walter Ang
August 10, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Bituin Escalante (center, top). Joel Trinidad (left).
“This is a musical about Alice’s incredible journey into a world unlike her own where she meets the most surprising set of wild characters,” says director Joy Virata, founder of Rep’s Children’s Theater.

Based on English author Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the story has had many interpretations across different mediums. Some adaptations incorporate elements from the book’s 1871 sequel “Through the Looking-Glass.”

The latest high-profile adaptation was a Walt Disney Pictures film version directed by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as White Queen and Helena Bonham Carter as Red Queen.

Disney Theatrical is reportedly adapting the movie into a stage musical. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her book of Disney’s stage version of its animated musical “Beauty and the Beast,” will be adapting the material for the stage.

Prior to the live-action movie, Disney produced an animated version in 1951.

Audiences who are also fans of the Batman franchise may be familiar with several Batman villains who are based on characters from the books, such as The Mad Hatter (who usually quotes from the books) and Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Best decision
Rep is using the version with book and lyrics written by Jim Eiler and music by Eiler and Jeanne Bargy.

Bituin Escalante, who made her Rep debut as Sour Kangaroo in “Seussical,” returns to the Rep stage as Queen of Hearts (alternating with Natalie Everett).

“I’m fulfilling a promise I made to myself that I would go back to RCT once I was physically able to,” she says. Escalante was “at the height of a very difficult first pregnancy” when she did “Seussical.”

“It was one of the best decisions I made. Performing for children put me in such a positive state of mind,” she adds.

She had committed to joining last year’s staging of “The Wizard of Oz” but found herself pregnant with her second child.

“I am grateful to be part of ‘Alice’ and to be playing such an iconic part. I am grateful to be part of RCT’s long tradition of creating new audiences for theater by introducing it to children,” she says.

“I’m grateful to be sharing the stage with my husband Reymund Domingo for the very first time. When we rehearse at home, it doubles as entertainment for our two beautiful girls,” she points out.

Domingo had his stage debut as a pirate in Rep’s “Peter Pan” and plays Duck/Kettle in this production. “The musical’s codirector Menchu Lauchengo-Yulo discovered him when he was picking me up from Seussical rehearsals. They needed a pirate and he looks like one,” she says, grinning.

Two veterans
The first time Rep staged this musical was in 1997, and two actors from that staging are part of this year’s show.

Leisl Batucan, 2009 Philstage Gawad Buhay! recipient for Outstanding Female Featured Performance in a Musical for Rep’s “Sweeney Todd,” played Alice in that first staging and is now the assistant director for this one.

Oliver Usison was cast as Cheshire Cat, Dodo Bird and King of Hearts. “Although I became the unofficial male swing (actor assigned to learn several parts and performs as a substitute whenever another actor is absent) and I ended up playing six more roles,” he says.
This time, Usison will have it a little easier, as he’s been cast to play only two roles: Walrus and King of Hearts. For now, anyway.

Japanese elements
Two actresses who have performed in recent Rep productions will alternate as Alice: Dani Gana (“Wizard of Oz”) and Chaye Mogg (“Camp Rock”). Nic Campos and Joel Trinidad alternate as The Mad Hatter.

Gino Gonzales handles set design, using an origami theme, and Raven Ong handles costume design, expanding on the origami concept with other Japanese elements such as lanterns and knots.
Musical director is Baby Barredo, choreographers are Lisa, Tintin and Cecille Martinez, and lighting designer is John Batalla.

“Alice in Wonderland” runs Aug. 17 to Dec. 15 at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 Mall, Makati City. Contact 5716926, 5714941 or Visit Tickets also available through Ticketworld at 8919999 or

Also published online: