News of another rare Australian Alice from 1962! There’s also fortunately a clip of it on Youtube. Thanks so much to Curiouser and Curiouser for finding out about this!
Image Source: The Canberra Times (December 12, 1962)
This “special” is the final “B.P. Super Show” for 1962 and will be seen on the four Nines — Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane.
Actor Noel Ferrier, at present Friday night compere of “In Melbourne Tonight” on GTV9, is producing the show in conjunction with regular “Super Show” producer Ian Holmes, who is also directing.
This “Alice” is a new version of the production staged so successfully at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, last Christmas by Noel Ferrier, with ballerina Kathleen Gorham as Alice.
It has been specially written for television by scriptwriter Jeff Underhill, and this time Alice is Patricia Moore, petite star of the J.C. Williamson production of the musical “Carnival,” at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne.
Videotaping the show has made possible special effects that were not available in the theatre.
"Alice, as the central figure, provides the continuity," Jeff said," and the scene changes take place round her in the almost magical way videotape allows."
There will be 14 different scenes in this musical, featuring highlights from both “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking-Glass.”
"The way the scenes follow one another was simply dictated by a feeling of ‘rightness,’" Jeff said. "It just seemed right, for instance, for the Humpty Dumpty scene to follow the Mad Hatter. There was no particular reason."
Melbourne composer and pianist Bruce George (he and Jeff collaborated on “The Ballad of Angel’s Alley,” seen in Melbourne earlier this year) wrote the music for “Alice” in just a week and found it fascinating to renew acquaintance with the Lewis Carroll verses again for the first time since childhood.
The eight songs Bruce composed and the music for the ballet are very much in character. For instance, the Lobster Quadrille (you know, the “Will you walk a little faster?” piece), which I saw and heard at rehearsal, is delightful and the big, all-in-together song, “They Told Me,” in the final Court scene is very catchy.
Producer Noel Ferrier plays Humpty Dumpty, as he did in the stage version last year, and comedian Johnny Ladd, just back from England, takes the role of the Queen of Hearts. Bill Hodge is the Duchess, and at rehearsal Bill and Johnny were having a wonderful time with their lines—Johnny with his falsetto “Off with their heads” and Bill with his peppery temper.
The White Knight is played by lanky film star Chips Rafferty, and his song, which has to be sung in a dignified manner befitting the character, is, Bruce George says, his favorite among the songs he has composed for the show. It’s called “A-sitting on a Gate.”
Other parts are the White Rabbit (Brian Crossley), the Mock Turtle and the Caterpillar (Fred Parslow— he sings “Beautiful Soup” and shares with Alice the old favorite “You Are Old, Father Willam”), the March Hare (Ernie Bourne), the Mad Hatter (Bob Hornery), the King of Hearts and the Walrus (Ron Shand), and the Knave of Hearts (Kevin Colson, leading man of “Carnival”).
The television production will use the delightful costumes from last year’s stage version, but the sets are new, designed by Noel Ferrier’s wife, Sue. (“So handy to have a wife who designs sets,” says Noel. “That’s why I married her.”
With very little time on hand, Channel 9’s scenery workshops worked at full pressure under Michael Ivory’s technical supervision. When I saw the scenery, the gay backdrops were finished and there were lots of recognisably “Alice” bits and pieces about—the Mad Hatter’s little cottage, for instance, and the Caterpillar’s mushroom.
The designs are pleasant and fanciful without the rather frightening feeling of the original book illustrations.
The finished production should certainly be different and entertaining to all age groups, with an early evening time-slot making it possible for children to enjoy the fun which, after all, Lewis Carroll originally intended for them.
Image and Information Source: Television Parade (December 19, 1962)
If anyone can track down the full video, it’d be much appreciated!