Meryl Streep displays the talent that would soon make her a movie star in Alice at the Palace, a musical theater adaptation by Elizabeth Swados of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Dressed in pink ove... more »ralls, Streep sings and dances through such famous scenes as the Mad Tea Party and playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts. This production, from the early 1980s, lies somewhere between Hair and Into the Woods. The music ranges across a variety of styles (from calypso to barbershop quartet) and video manipulations enhance the inventive physical staging, but it's Streep that will carry you through--her sound effects as Alice changes size (after drinking from a bottle labeled "Drink Me") are delightful, capturing both a childlike imagination and the fluid reality of theater. Alice at the Palace features several other recognizable faces, including Mark Linn-Baker (My Favorite Year) and dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen. --Bret Fetzer« less
S. Gallagher | Chicago, IL United States | 11/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, the musical Alice at the Palace is available on both DVD and VHS! I have been looking for this musical for almost 20 years, and am so delighted to have found it at Amazon[.com]. The musical stars Meryl Streep and has a talented supporting cast that helps her bring Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to life in one musical. Alice at the Palace appeared on TV in 1982, and at that time my family had a Beta tape recorder, so Alice was immortalized on tape. At some point the last 10 minutes were recorded over and it was transferred from Beta to VHS. Ever since it aired, my family has been on a quest to obtain a copy of the full musical...and at times I was desperate enough to go searching for just the transcript to read and relive it. Alice at the Palace is low on grand theatrical gimmicks and high on incredible talent, songs, acting, and humor. It's a delight for both adults and children. I give it two thumbs up and five stars out of five for sheer entertainment. You'll be singing the songs for years afterwards....my family did. And for anyone who says, "Meryl Streep? In a musical? Singing??!" I say, "Just wait...""
"I suppose this is a regular day if you're mad."
Mary Whipple | New England | 01/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Produced by Joseph Papp and directed by Emile Ardolino, this Palace Theater/vaudeville version of Alice in Wonderland, filmed in 1981, is so energetic, so beautifully choreographed (by Graciela Daniele), and so full of fun that when I finished watching it, I immediately watched it all over again! Part of the reason comes from the joy of watching Meryl Streep as a music hall star, playing seven-year-old Alice, acting as a comedienne, and singing her heart out. With a strong soprano voice and perfect timing, Streep as a singer is a real surprise for those more accustomed to seeing her in Sophie's Choice or The French Lieutenant's Woman, but she is, not surprisingly, as gifted a vaudeville star as she is a serious dramatic actress.
Featuring a score and lyrics by Elizabeth Swados, the production has everything, its split second timing and quick cuts from one scene to another keeping the viewer constantly entertained with changing action and moods. Stunning to watch, the show features as "the caterpillar," a tower of actors who wave their arms as "legs," while Richard Cox (who also plays the March Hare) sings to Alice with a voice that sounds like something from the Casbah. Alice's solo, "Beautiful Soup," a lovely ballad with the ensemble, changes the mood, and Rodney Hudson's next scene, as the Cheshire Cat, changes it yet again. Hudson is particularly memorable, varying his singing style from rap to rock, and his dance style from a softshoe to the buck-and-wing. Debbie Allen as the Queen of Hearts plays the Queen as a dancehall floozy, with red dress and slit skirt, dancing with complete abandon.
The variety inherent in music hall productions continues in the croquet game, where Streep has some fun, strumming a flamingo while singing a great imitation of Joan Baez. Succeeding scenes feature a waltz, a wonderful mime show with Mark Linn-Baker, a formal ballet, a brief hula by Streep, and a modern dance with the unicorn. In the "Jabberwock" scene, Streep even engages in a duel and martial arts display, Maori style. With loosely connected scenes showcasing a great variety of talents, the craziness of Alice in Wonderland merges with the music hall spirit and the show comes fully alive--full of fun, very funny, and as mad as the Mad Hatter. Mary Whipple
The best of the best - Papp, Swados, Streep, pure GENIUS!
K. Corn | Indianapolis,, IN United States | 12/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this and taped it on VHS when it first came out as a Peacock Presentation on television. I was delighted at the opportunity to replace my old VSH tape with a new DVD and the "remastered" DVD is crisp and clean, with sharp sound and great color. If you're a purist, be forewarned that this is an inovative and creative production of ALice and it takes liberties..and yet, amazingly, the whole thing works, revolving around the theme of identity, childhood, growing up, feeling small and the crazy/scary world of childhood. It is also a musical production, so if you prefer spoken theatre to musicals, you should be aware that this is primarily sung, with brief periods of dialogue. It was a pleasure seeing Streep and so many other talented performers at their best -and, not incidentally, starring in a performance of Alice that goes beyond what Lewis Carroll may have had in mind - with the potential to reach a whole new generation of viewers. Streep is a wonder, absolutely chameleon-like in her ability to change moods in the twinkling of an eye, from pouting child to spunky adolescent. This particular staging required a great deal of manual dexterity on the part of the the performers and there are unexpected delights to amaze even those who think they've seen every variation of Alice in Wonderland. The caterpiller,for instance, is made up of a group of people, waving their arms in very caterpiller-like fashion, while the head of the caterpiller sings in a...unique..chanting...way. And the music is simply stellar, the kind of tunes you find yourself humming long afterwards, ranging from joyouus to haunting. I loved "Soup of the Evening" in particular. This production is a musical in the best sense of the word, drawing from all aspects of theatre and musical history, everything from traditional songs to variations on Jewish melodies and so forth. In the process, the production weaves a spell on the audience - for me, it opened my eyes to the various types of consciousness we all experience, including feelings lurking just below consciousness that Swados somehow manages to encourage her ensemble to discover and to...well, simply have a heck of a lot of fun in the process (but it must have been incredibly difficult to stage). This is a true rarity in theatre performances, revealing Streep's talent and versatility early on...and I only wish directors and performers still had the encouragement and financing to take such risks today. Hard to imagine anything this original and daring on television (even cable) these days."
Ken Schneyer | Barrington, RI USA | 12/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How could I have not noticed that this was finally coming out on DVD? An exquisite production, in which Streep somehow manages to be sexy as hell while giving Alice complete and genuine childhood innocence and playing the absurdity for all it's worth. Mark-Lynn Baker and Debbie Allen make early, stunning performances in a production that was clearly based on intensive improvisation. Elizabeth Swados, whose musical productions are always stunning, is brilliant here."
The Young Meryl
J. Nachison | Santa Monica, CA United States | 01/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Elizabeth Swados seems to be virtually unknown these days outside of theater circles, despite a rich output of plays and books, but her "Runaways" was the "Rent" of its day, and it was showered with Tony awards. I had fond memories of her musical riff on Lewis Carroll, "Alice At The Palace" (aka "Alice In Concert") -- which adapts story elements from both "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass" -- from a PBS broadcast back in the early 80's. Seen through my older, seen-it-all eyes in middle age, the show now seems a little aimless and v-e-r-y l-o-n-g. There's still a lot to savor, though, not the least being Meryl Streep's charming Alice. There are some other familiar faces, like Debbie Allen, Mark Linn-Baker and the late Michael Jeter, all skilled theatrical entertainers, but it's Streep who carries the production. With a bit of judicious fast-forwarding (past, for example, Linn-Baker's tiresome Jewish Mock Turtle), it could provide an entertaining evening."