Savannahians are in for a treat June 7-8 as "Alice Underground" hits the stage at Muse Arts Warehouse, courtesy of Dark Horse Theatre of Asheville, N.C.
This show is the first collaboration between Muse Arts, Dark Horse and Kaufman-Heinz (K&H), a design, production and event consulting firm in Savannah.
E McClain, director of "Alice Underground," shares her twist on this classic story: "The book is so odd and clever. There are certain situations in the story that you connect with differently depending on what's going on in your life at the time.
"For children, the story spotlights humor and imagination. But there are so many inside jokes and historical references you don't pick up on reading it as a child.
"It seems as though the book grows with you. Our grown-up Alice is just as lost as (Lewis) Carroll's childhood Alice, but for entirely different reasons. Carroll's Alice is searching for a way home. Our Alice is a little broken. She's searching for the right way to put herself back together."
Sarah Carpenter, playing Alice in McClain's production, adds: "Both McClain's adaptation and the original portray a real person in a compromising situation. The archetypes of the central characters are just as familiar to today as they were in the late 1800s. McClain has chosen to represent these characters in modern terms, updating the thread of the story by shedding some light on what it means to be an adult.
"Just as the original Alice is trying to find her place in the nonsense of Wonderland, our Alice is trying to find her place in all the nonsense of societal norms."
The collaboration of K&H and Dark Horse is the first in what they hope to be a long partnership of bringing Dark Horse shows here.
"Matt (former technical director at the Trustees Theater) and his wife discovered Dark Horse when they lived in Asheville, N.C., for a few years, following careers at SCAD for over five years in Savannah, and became involved in her Dark Horse shows (set design, lighting, technical theater)," McClain says.
"Eventually, the Kaufmans returned to Savannah, where they realized Savannah needed a taste of Asheville's Dark Horse Theatre. The discussions and hopes became reality when McClain mentioned to her 'Alice Underground' cast about the possibility of taking the show on the road - the decision to come was unanimous!"
They're confident this collaboration will work well due to the similarities shared by the two cities.
"We joke that Asheville is the Savannah of the mountains and Savannah is the Asheville of the beach. The cities are approximately the same population size and both are heavily tourist towns," McClain says.
"The local communities in both are very much considered artistic and musical. From our perspective, the types of art may differ; however, it's the passion for things like theater, art and music that remain the same. Again, it is our desire to see a stronger theatrical and performing arts scene in Savannah. Bringing in talent such as Dark Horse and eventually making it a larger, festival-style event with local performing arts groups is the bigger picture," McClain says.
And partnering with Muse Arts Warehouse as the venue was another no-brainer.
"'Alice Underground' should be performed in a more intimate setting, as the audience becomes enveloped in the show upon walking in and seeing the artwork and designs, before the first actor takes the stage. Muse Arts Warehouse is a fantastic gem of a venue that has a reputation for spectacular programming and always seeks to give back to the community," McClain says.
"Jin Hi Rand, owner of Muse, talked to us at length about the history of this venue, as well as its ties to previous performances of Alice.
"We all got goosebumps listening to her tell stories of past shows and how much the Alice story means to her and her venue. All of the pieces just seemed to fit so perfectly into place."
Rand adds: "There is something about the current cultural arts scene in Savannah that is vibrantly and undeniably thump-thump-thumping through the veins and under the feet of Savannah.
"We are seeing a lot of collaboration and outreach between the artists that have been here for 20 years or more and the artists who bring with them new insights, perspectives and a fresh, love-at-first-sight vision that keeps us all inspired and alive," Rand says.
"We're very excited about new music, theater, dance, spoken word, film, fine arts, fashion and festival scene initiatives that are being driven by younger organizers with a firm footing in the history of the arts scene and community here in Savannah."
IF YOU GO
What: "Alice Underground"
When: 8 p.m. June 7-8
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville Road