‘A…My Name is Alice’ at the Redfern

The Keene State College theater and dance program featured the revue “A…My Name Is Alice” at the Redfern Arts Center’s Wright Theater the week of Oct. 18. Directed by Kirstin Riegler, the production highlighted performances by Keene State students Sydney Aldrich, Heather Hunt, Amy Lesieur, Emily McIntyre and Claire O’Brien. The performance was complemented with piano accompaniment by Thomas R. Martin and choreography was by Makayla Ferrick.

Director Kirstin Riegler said that she chose the show “‘A…My Name Is Alice’ because, “I wanted to keep musical theater present in our season here at Keene. I also wanted to showcase that a musical doesn’t have to be this large grandiose production; it can be an intimate conversation between audience and actor. I was very passionate about it because bringing five women together and doing a show that is all women is a very strong statement, and I wanted to do that for Keene.”

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Regarding the selection of the Wright Theater as a venue, Riegler said “I never saw this story being in this big space because along with my concept of this whole group therapy session, I wanted the audience to feel like a part of the therapy session. So I figured having it in the Wright Theater…where you’re in a circle group and just chatting, it would set the mood more appropriately than in a bigger space.

While the revue was originally written in 1983, Riegler stated that the message is still relevant in today’s society. As a feminist production, Riegler said, “I’m a big fan of  women who don’t need a man to be strong. An independent woman is crucial. I think all I can say is the power just speaks for itself the way the material was written. It was conceived by two women in 1983 and they just wanted to make a statement that you can do a show dominated by women. In the 80s, musicals –  a very male dominated profession – had that male lead and that male-female couple. Here, we can still tell the same story with five women.”

Riegler also remarked that she has thoroughly enjoyed working with the cast of “A…My Name Is Alice.” She described the actress’ ability to work together as, “absolutely hands down from our first day to learning the music.” Riegler said that one of the more rewarding aspects of working with the all female cast was “seeing them kind of be their own director” by learning their assigned songs. Riegler was also impressed with  how each cast member individualized each song. She said that she enjoyed seeing these women create their own through line [when an actor has an objective for a line, thetheatredictionary.org] connecting their characters back stories to the main story, and how all five of them were able to allow their stories to mesh in a cohesive manner was literally incredible, and it was all done by them.”

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

As director, Riegler added her own ideas, mainly the group therapy session, to “A…My Name Is Alice.” She said that she invented it “because I just think just reading the text as barren, I felt like everything could totally be something you talk to a therapist about. Or to all of these women, something crucial just happened in their lives and they’ve talked to all of their family friends. They just need that outside help or connection with someone that might be going through the same thing.” Riegler also rearranged the order of the songs “to make a through line possible for these actresses to find.”

Audience member Lauren Bennett, a graduate student in the KSC special education program, said, “I enjoyed the kindergarten aspect of the musical review in its nursery rhyme style songs such as the ABCs in performers’ introductions.”

Other audience member Chloe Melville, a sophomore nutrition major at KSC, said that the production featured “so many things that you can relate to life.” Melville also said that she “didn’t expect the musical to be as good as it was.”

First produced in 1983,  “A..My Name Is Alice” was written by Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd. The production won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Revue.

Ethan Chalmers can be contacted at echalmers@kscequinox.com

Fletcher Rice can be contacted at frice@kscequinox.com

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