El Paso Kids-N-Co. explores outside of traditional plays once again with “The Doctor In Wonderland,” which will continue to run this weekend until Sunday, Oct. 30.
A fantasy/sci-fi nerd’s dream written by Don Zolidis, it combines the storylines of – you guessed it – “Dr. Who” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Fueled with endless puns and witty quips, the story takes the audience through a hilarious journey when Doctor What (Jason Yench) and his partner in intergalactic crime Cara (Emily Ruth Shackleford) crash land into Wonderland.
That’s right – their names are Cara and Doctor What. What? You don’t want Zolidis to get sued for copyright infringement, do you? Moving on.
While trying to repair his Tardis, Doctor What treats Cara more like an annoying sibling rather than his partner, ordering her to stay put. But that plan is immediately ruined when the White Rabbit (Maximo Pearson) zooms past Cara and urges her to help him keep his head and arrive at The Red Queen’s palace on time.
Clara encounters many of the classic characters, who all have a hysterical, modernized quirk. The Pansy (Abigail A. Locke), Dandelion (Cindy Rene Granillo) and Poppy (Ana Mendoza) worsen Doctor What and Cara’s spiraling journey with their classic bickering. Playing up the famously euphoric quality of poppy seeds, Mendoza masters the art of hippie speak, exaggerated by her chill demeanor.
Actor Johnathan Robledo’s high energy and spot-on articulation brought authenticity to The Mad Hatter while Scarlett Daniel’s Scottish/Irish-powered interpretation of the March Hare heightens her uproarious sarcasm.
The Red Queen, played by Lluvia Almanza, had her intimidation game down as she shouted her commands with ruthless glares. As it unfolds that things are not what they seem, Almanza nails the shift from the queen to a dalek with a bellowing, “EXTERMINATE!”
Directing a cast of 22 is no easy feat, but director Raul Chavez knows his comedic timing and execution. It helps that he’s a longtime actor who cracked audiences up in his performance during El Paso Playhouse’s “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
“The Doctor in Wonderland” also had plenty of personal and timely touches, and my favorites were The Queen’s mission to “make Wonderland great again” and her Chihuahua sidekick. It turns out he was a last-minute addition when Almanza brought her four-legged friend to rehearsal one day. Needless to say, the addition prompted many giggles and awwwws.
Don’t skip one of life’s best forms of medicine – laugh your mad hat off with the help of Kids-N-Co.