GIVEN THE COMPANY'S NAME, you'd think the target audience for an Oregon Children's Theatre production would be easy to identify. But OCT's current production of Alice & Wonderland leaves the matter in some doubt. Based on Richard Rosen and Wink Kelso's 1973 rock opera, OCT's version excises the original's adult themes, leaving a classic rock-influenced soundtrack to score Alice's tumble down the rabbit hole. But the result has neither character development nor narrative continuity, only a string of songs loosely strung between a handful of Alice in Wonderland's signposts.
Extracting any kind of throughline from this production demands familiarity with the original book. One extended musical number features the Mock Turtle, while another translates the perambulations of the Walrus and the Carpenter, references that are sure to fly over tiny heads.
There are visual compensations: Much of the staging is quite clever—when Alice eats the potions that make her grow and shrink, a multipurpose door serves as the scale against which her size is measured, and the Walrus and the Carpenter get a bright, jolly number, as they stroll "hand in hand," snacking on oysters.
But while grownups might appreciate the staging and some of the cheekier interpretations of Alice's journey, it still feels too watered down and campy to really appeal to an adult sensibility. And kids hoping for a white rabbit with a pocketwatch will no doubt be puzzled by this production's ratty rocker with a guitar.