Director Jacque Lueken is ecstatic to be back at NFT directing the Youth Ensemble’s Alice in Wonderland musical production. This Sandwich, IL native has quite a resume of theatrical experiences, from working as an actor at Six Flags Great America at age 16 and working at The School at Steppenwolf, to directing NFT Youth Ensemble’s It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play to currently being the Executive Director of Three Cat Education.
I’m excited to be working on Alice in Wonderland, and to be looking at the show from the idea of Dreams vs. Nightmares – really delving into the reason Alice encounter the characters she does in Wonderland. The questions we find ourselves contnually coming back to throughout our rehearsal process are ‘When is it a dream?’ and ‘When is it a nightmare?’ We are also making sure t focus on the fact that Alice does not get to leave Wonderland because the dream is over, but in order to escape back into reality she needs to confront her fears (the ‘nightmare’ side of things) before she can wake up.
In particular, this ensemble of actors has such a willingness to play with this idea. We started Day 1 of rehearsals working with character creation from an abstract view using music and images to help us inform the world we want to create in Wonderland and I was delighted with what the actors brought in. They are really working to make sure that all of their characters areas full as possible. My favorite example can be found with one of our Rock Lobsters, Dan Solon. Through the work we’ve done in our character exploration, Dan decided that his Rock Lobster has an actual friend in his right claw – and at times in the scenes where the entire ensemble is on stage you can see him and his claw having a debate about what they should do next. It’s things like this that are giving a really great depth to the show – making our Wonderland unique to one you might find in any other production.
I’m really very excited about this rehearsal process and an’t wait to see how the kids feel sharing their version of ‘Alice’ with their audience.
-Jacque Lueken, Director