Spir­ited role

Young at heart ac­tor Natasha Green­blatt takes on ti­tle role in Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val’s Alice Through the Look­ing Glass

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STEWART

Natasha Green­blatt stars in Alice Through the Look­ing Glass.

When it came time to dive into her new char­ac­ter, it turned out that a trip to P.E.I.’s north shore was just what Natasha Green­blatt needed.

The 30-year-old Toronto, Ont., na­tive had ar­rived on the Is­land to play the lead role in “Alice Through the Look­ing Glass” this sum­mer at the Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val. And when her fam­ily came to the Is­land re­cently for a visit, she de­cided to take them to the beach. They loved what they saw, and Green­blatt was thrilled to watch her lit­tle sis­ter’s eyes widen with de­light.

“She’d never seen the ocean,’’ Green­blatt said. “She was kick­ing the ocean for an hour . . . ev­ery­thing was new.’’

Her re­ac­tion inspired Green­blatt to em­brace her own in­ner Alice — bring­ing all the won­der and de­light that be­fits a char­ac­ter that is not quite eight years old.

It’s a role that comes with a cer­tain amount of pres­sure. Lewis Car­roll’s tale is leg­endary and the role it­self is rather iconic.

“The in­ten­tion . . . is to awaken the child in ev­ery­one; that child­like state of won­der and dis­cov­ery so I was try­ing to get in touch with my in­ner child; to not make it too much about the iconic Alice.’’

Once she slips on that sig­na­ture blue dress, Green­blatt be­comes Alice.

“You just have to worry about be­ing as truth­ful to your­self as pos­si­ble so they’re not see­ing an icon; they’re not see­ing an archetype; they’re see­ing a real per­son, but within a very sym­bolic and very icono­graphic world.’’

The Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val has en­tered un­char­tered ter­ri­tory with “Alice Through the Look­ing Glass”. It isn’t a mu­si­cal, one of the rare times a non-mu­si­cal has graced the main stage. There are mu­si­cal el­e­ments in it but it’s a show that re­lies on set pieces and chore­og­ra­phy.

Adam Bra­zier, artis­tic di­rec­tor with the Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val, says the show sets a new stan­dard for the fes­ti­val. It al­lows them to more the­atri­cal, more cre­ative and more imag­i­na­tive.

“For us, it’s un­heard of, es­pe­cially this kind of a play,’ Bra­zier said. “We’ve never done any­thing like this in terms of props, in terms of sets, in terms of lights. This is, in ev­ery ca­pac­ity, an ab­so­lute new ex­pe­ri­ence for the fes­ti­val.’’

De­vel­oped through the Stratford Fes­ti­val, Alice is a big pro­duc­tion.

All the set pieces came with the show.

“We would never be able to af­ford to build all of the props in this show; it’s so mas­sive in size,’’ said Bra­zier.

“It’s very the­atri­cal,’’ adds Green­blatt. “You’re watch­ing peo­ple ma­nip­u­late bouncy horses, (you see) trees on bikes and gi­ant bub­ble things.’’

And, un­like the Stratford show, Char­lot­te­town’s pro­duc­tion in­cludes a live or­ches­tra.

“We took this ker­nel of some­thing so bril­liantly cre­ative and in­ge­nious and we turned it into a bowl of pop­corn. It’s never been like this (in Char­lot­te­town),’’ Bra­zier said.

Green­blatt, who is in prac­ti­cally ev­ery scene, calls her­self the “au­di­ence’s eyes’’ in that she re­acts to ev­ery­thing right along with ev­ery­one in their seats.

“I sort of func­tion with the au­di­ence whose meet­ing all these fan­tas­ti­cal crea­tures and crazy events . . . re­ally, very ab­surd. I would char­ac­ter­ize this show as ab­surd and . . . I get to have the same ex­pe­ri­ence as the au­di­ence,’’ she said.

Green­blatt also has a mi­nor role in “Anne of Green Gables– The Mu­si­cal”. She plays Prissy An­drews. In fact, the en­tire Alice cast also have roles in Anne.

“Ex­haust­ing? Ab­so­lutely,’’ she says. “But it’s also en­er­giz­ing. The com­pany that’s here for Anne (of Green Gables) is so tal­ented, so en­er­getic. I get to ride their energy. I get to hop on board with them.’’

It’s easy, af­ter all, when you get to turn back into a seven-and-ahalf year old ev­ery day.

“It is about the young spirit.’’

BRIAN MCINNIS/THE GUARDIAN

Toronto, Ont., na­tive Natasha Green­blatt has taken on the role of Alice in the Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val’s pro­duc­tion of Alice Through the Look­ing Glass this sum­mer. Green­blatt spent last year with the Na­tional Arts Cen­tre di­rect­ing a mu­sic/theatre col­lab­o­ra­tion called the Se­cret Gar­den of Lido Pimienta for Sum­merWorks. Her re­sume also in­cludes TV and film.

AN­DREE LAN­THIER/ PHOTO SPE­CIAL TO THE GUARDIAN

Natasha Green­blatt is shown as Alice in Alice Through the Look­ing-Glass.

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