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Stage Planner: Real story behind 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Jersey Boys' returns, Chingo Bling

THE REAL ALICE: DREAM CHILD

To create something new about Alice in Wonderland, you have look where no one else is looking. That is how Roxanne Fay, a familiar presence on Tampa Bay stages, approached the show she created around Alice Liddell, the child who inspired the Lewis Carroll classic.

Dream Child: The Trial of Alice in Wonderland, Fay's one-woman show, opened at the Dalí Museum last weekend and runs tonight and Friday at the Studio@620.

The real Alice was the daughter of the dean of Christ Church in Oxford, England, where Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) taught math. They were neighbors. Carroll spent a lot of time with Alice and her three sisters, took photographs and told them fanciful stories.

As a theater adviser to the Salvador Dalí Museum, Fay had created other plays around upcoming exhibits, including A Picasso (starring Fay and Steve Garland) and A Little Freudian Slip: Dalí Dreams Da Vinci, starring David Mann, in 2015.

With the museum planning a "Dalí and Beyond" film series, including Disney's Alice in Wonderland, she searched for ideas no one else had tried. She read biographies and novels, and became intrigued by the relationship between Alice and Carroll. Had something improper happened? It could make a compelling story. No evidence supported the rumor that Carroll abused the child, and accounts by Alice and other children who knew Carroll directly contradict it. Fay decided against it.

"Really, that would be the easiest tack, and sort of sensationalistic in a National Enquirer way to take that view," Fay said. "I thought, 'Let's just go in the total opposite direction.' "

She sets the opening scene of Dream Child in 1932, in the stateroom of an ocean liner bound for New York. Alice, then an 80-year-old widow named Alice Hargreaves, was to be the guest of honor at a centennial celebration of Carroll's birth.

As she writes the speech she will give, Alice reflects on her marriage, the two sons who died in World War I and the man who made her famous. Characters from the novel (such as the Caterpillar) ask her questions, sometimes accusingly.

"How do you live with Wonderland all those years?" Fay said. "How does it come to settle? How does it come to be a comfortable place — or is it just a memory?"

Fay will soon head to Catskill, N.Y., to perform the show June 10-19 at the Bridge Street Theatre.

Dream Child: The Trial of Alice in Wonderland starts at 7 Thursday and Friday at the Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. $20, $15 students and seniors. (727) 895-6620. thestudio@620.org.

WORKING THEIR WAY BACK: JERSEY BOYS

The world's most infectious doo-wop musical is back next week. Jersey Boys, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe (based on a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice), returns to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday. The 2005 show won four Tonys, including one for best leading actor for John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli. (He also starred in Clint Eastwood's 2014 movie based on the musical.)

The story follows Valli, Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi through the formative years of the Four Seasons, whose immortal harmonies were sometimes the only thing that united them. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. June 1, 2 and 5; 8 p.m. June 3 and 4; and 2 p.m. June 4 and 5 at Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $38.50-$113.50. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

TEX-MEX BLING: PEDRO HERRERA III

Chingo Bling has sold CDs of rap music from the trunk of his car, hawked T-shirts and tamales at flea markets, worked what he calls the "taco circuit" and morphed his humor about Tex-Mex roots from music to video to standup comedy.

Bling (real name Pedro Herrera III), who appears Wednesday at the Tampa Improv, has combined a marketing degree from Trinity University with social media savvy, racking up millions of page views on YouTube. A lot of national media and bookings give credence to the growing view that this slick salesman is bringing some serious issues to the public through his comedy. The show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Tampa Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. $20. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com.

Stage Planner: Real story behind 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Jersey Boys' returns, Chingo Bling 05/25/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2016 12:19pm]
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