Chinese adaptation of Alice In Wonderland features 3D Cheshire Cat

The cast from China includes (clockwise from far left) Zhou Wen Jia, 20, Huang Yun Ning, 22, Yang Guang Yu, 23, and Xie Xin Yi, 25.
The cast from China includes (clockwise from far left) Zhou Wen Jia, 20, Huang Yun Ning, 22, Yang Guang Yu, 23, and Xie Xin Yi, 25.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A 3D-animated Cheshire Cat will sing and dance alongside actors in an upcoming Mandarin musical staging of the timeless Lewis Carroll fairy tale, Alice In Wonderland, at Resorts World Sentosa.

Another virtual character is Poker Giant, a puppet controlled by the evil Red Queen in the musical. They will be projected on stage, along with other computer-generated backdrops that recreate the story's fantasy setting.

The musical's cast of theatre actors from China tell The Straits Times that acting alongside virtual projections can be difficult at times.

Actress Xie Xin Yi, 25, who plays the titular character Alice, says: "I spend a lot of time alone on stage, so I have to make sure I deliver my lines at the right timing to keep pace with the projections."

Directed by Canadian director- choreographer Suzanne Goyette and written by Chinese playwright Wang Lingyun, the show was first staged in China in 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of relations between the sister cities of Shanghai and Montreal.

The show is brought here by concert organiser Biz Trends Media and will travel to Hong Kong in October.

  • BOOK IT / ALICE IN WONDERLAND

    WHERE: Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway

    WHEN: Sept 11 and 12, 2 and 5pm

    ADMISSION: $38 to $88 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to sistic.com.sg)

    INFO: www.facebook.com/Biztm

It hews to Carroll's original storyline, in which Alice chases a talking white rabbit and falls down a rabbit hole into a different world, where she encounters a series of strange characters.

The classic book has been adapted for television and film multiple times, most notably by American director Tim Burton in his 2010 movie, which starred actors Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham-Carter.

Wang, 33, tells The Straits Times in an e-mail interview that he was inspired by a staging of Alice In Wonderland that he saw in Canada.

"I was also partially inspired by how Disney's 2013 blockbuster hit Frozen interpreted a fairy tale in a contemporary way," adds the graduate from Shanghai University's Fine Arts College.

He also penned the lyrics for the 10 original songs in the musical.

Goyette, 48, a reputed director and choreographer from Canada, was roped in to be the musical's director, with the help of a translator, as the musical's cast is Chinese.

She says: "The 3D animation is a big part of the concept, so I had to adjust the show such that every scene could work well with it."

Wang says: "Another challenge was to translate this story into one that's suitable for children. But it's a great coming-of-age narrative about a heroine who's as courageous as Hua Mulan," referring to the famous female warrior in Chinese folklore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Alice with virtual actors'. Print Edition | Subscribe