ALIX IN WONDERLAND Staged Reading and Special Panel Discussion
Join us at Keegan on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm for a special curated Boiler Maker Staged Reading as part of Keegan’s Boiler Room Series and in connection with the DC premiere run of Anna Ziegler’s BOY on the mainstage. The performance will be followed by a guest panel discussion and audience talkback about Gender Identity in Contemporary Art and the Media.
ALIX IN WONDERLAND, a new musical
by Buzz Mauro and Norman Allen
About the musical: A celebration of personal discovery, ALIX is a wholly original, musical take on social norms, self-perception, and what it really means to grow up in today’s world. A tumble down that world-famous rabbit hole brings teenage Alix face-to-face with the wild, wacky, and annoying denizens of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland… but none of them are quite as anyone remembers them.
The phrase “down the rabbit hole” has come to mean the entry into a place of confusion and endless debate. Our creative trip down the rabbit hole of ALIX IN WONDERLAND has been more like the one intended by Lewis Carroll himself — a journey of discovery and growing self-awareness.
Our intention was to use Carroll’s two Alice books to lift up the experience of a person exploring their identity, discovering who they are — and who they aren’t. More specifically, we were intent on depicting the journey of a person exploring their gender identity.
To do that work responsibly, we invited high school students who identify as transgender or gender queer to join us for an informal conversation early in the process. We heard about the struggles and the joys of their experience. We also drew on an extensive series of interviews that Norman conducted while working with the Human Rights Campaign and on informal conversations that Buzz enjoyed throughout the process.
Once we had a solid first draft, we brought the script and score into a daylong workshop using the young cast who would soon premiere this new musical. The day ended with another deep-diving conversation. A highlight of our entire process was hearing that workshop cast — some of them members of the LGBTQ+ community — offer an enthusiastic thumbs-up to our work. Even better, they expressed their excitement about participating in something so important to our lives at this time and in this place.
Every world premiere is shaped by its cast and its director. We could not be more grateful for the creative energy, the honest feedback, and the inspiration provided by everyone at TheatreLab who made this possible.
— Norman Allen & Buzz Mauro
About the Panel Discussion and Audience Talkback
Keegan Theatre and the Boiler Room Series are pleased to host a moderated panel discussion and audience talkback about the themes presented in ALIX IN WONDERLAND and about gender identity and representations of non-binary people in contemporary art and the media.
Moderated by actor Lisa Friday, who will appear in the lead role of Keegan’s summer 2020 production of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, the panel will feature Dr. Kathryn Van Eck, a clinical psychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and at the Emerge Gender and Sexuality Clinic for Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults at Johns Hopkins University; actor and Georgetown University Peace and Justice Studies student Madelyn Rice; and ALIX IN WONDERLAND authors Buzz Mauro and Norman Allen.
Buzz Mauro is the composer and co-lyricist (with Renee Calarco) of The Kids’ Table, an original musical for teens designed for completely gender-blind casting that premiered at The Theatre Lab in 2017 and was subsequently produced by Much Ado About Theatre in Warrenton, VA. He is also the composer and lyricist of Alix in Wonderland: A Gender Journey Down the Rabbit Hole, with book by Norman Allen, an exploration of gender identity that premiered at The Theatre Lab in July 2019 and was reprised at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. His musical The Odyssey (written with Marcia Clemmitt) won best original in the NVTA One-Act Festival and ‘Tis Ivan on a Visit (also with Marcia Clemmitt) won the David Lloyd Kreeger Award.
Buzz is also a founder and Co-Director of The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts, where he teaches all levels of acting and musical theatre, and a Helen Hayes Award nominee who has performed with Signature Theatre, Ford’s, Studio, The Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, and many other companies. He received his B.A. from Yale University and has an M.F.A. in Acting from Catholic University. Along with Deb Gottesman, he is the founder of Center Stage Communications, a unique consulting firm specializing in the application of acting techniques to the business world. Together they are the authors of three books on applied acting: The Interview Rehearsal Book, Taking Center Stage, and The Best Answer, all published by Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Putnam.
Norman Allen’s work has been commissioned and produced by the Kennedy Center, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre (VA), Olney Theatre Center, and the Karlin Music Theatre in Prague. Recent projects include Alix in Wonderland: A Gender Journey Down the Rabbit Hole with composer/lyricist Buzz Mauro for The Theatre Lab.
Norman received the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play for In The Garden. His solo drama Nijinsky’s Last Dance won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Play prior to productions across the U.S., Europe, and South Africa. His work in musical theatre includes the concert adaptation of Sweet Adeline at Encores!, New York City Center; The Christmas Carol Rag, featuring a classic ragtime score, and Frank Wildhorn’s Carmen, which has played for more than a decade in Prague and been produced in Austria, Lithuania, South Korea, and Japan.
Norman’s essays and feature stories have appeared in The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Houston Chronicle; in Smithsonian, Yes! and Washingtonian magazines; on WAMU-FM; and on numerous web sites including Sojourners, Tikkun, OnBeing, Howlround, and Tin House. His work for television includes PBS documentaries on Vincent Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, and the Phillips Collection of Modern Art.
Norman received his Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary and was ordained by All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC. He proudly serves as Minister to the Davies Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Camp Springs, Maryland.
What’s the Boiler Room Series?
The Boiler Room Series at Keegan, named after the old boiler room of the pre-renovation Keegan Theatre, is a bold programming initiative that focuses on the development of new works and the producing of unique performances. The name speaks to the two-part mission: crank up the artistic heat on new works in progress and let loose the creative voices of tomorrow’s theatre. LEARN MORE