Guest host Cynthia Nixon introduces readings from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This beloved children’s classic celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015.
Alice’s adventures started with a boat trip—the book’s author Charles Dodgson (writing under the pen name Lewis Carroll) began telling it to entertain the three young daughters of Henry Liddell. One of them, Alice Liddell, asked him to write the story down, and what began as a lark ended up a legend. The story grew and grew, much as Alice herself does once she jumps down the rabbit hole and ends up in a topsy-turvy world where animals speak and everyone is in a hurry. While the book has enchanted children for generations, it is also a light-hearted satire—cloaked in nonsense—of social conventions, governments, and pretensions of all kinds.
For a special evening at Symphony Space celebrating the book’s anniversary, we featured readings from some of our favorite chapters. In “The Pool of Tears” Alice grows from small to larger to small again in her attempt to gain entrance to a charming garden. The results are almost disastrous. Reader Ari Graynor has had featured roles on “The Sopranos,” “Fringe,” and “Veronica Mars.” On film she’s been seen in “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” “Whip It,” and “For a Good Time, Call…”
After surviving a croquet match played with flamingos and hedgehogs, Alice, accompanied by a Gryphon, goes to meet the lugubrious Mock Turtle, who entertains her with stories of his childhood under the sea, demonstrates the Lobster Quadrille, and sings “Soup of the Evening, Beautiful Soup.” Who better to make sense of Carroll’s nonsense than “Sesame Street” alum Sonia Manzano? Manzano recently retired after playing the character Maria for over 40 years. Manzano is also a published children’s book writer, including the titles No Dogs Allowed and A Box Full of Kittens. She’s also the author of the novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and the memoir Becoming Maria.
Finally, Alice meets a real vanity case: Humpty Dumpty. The famously ovoid Humpty wants to be sure everyone knows how important—and well dressed—he is. He’s played with relish by Dan Stevens, whose extensive stage work includes “As You Like It,” “Hay Fever,” “The Vortex,” “Arcadia,” and “The Heiress.” He’s best-known for his portrayal of the romantic Matthew Crawley in “Downton Abbey.”