Alice’s wonderland

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Fancy stepping through the looking glass with Alice and seeing Blackpool Winter Gardens like the complex has never been seen before?

If so then there are just over two weeks to go before Alice Through The Winter Gardens breaks new grounds with a unique interactive event combining theatre, music, film, dance, design and history.

“This is a magical, original production celebrating the renaissance of one of Blackpool’s finest architectural treasures,” said Lou Muddle, from Liverpool-based company Hope Street Limited, which beat off opposition from more than two dozen other organisations to stage the event.

It will be presented from Tuesday September 13 to Sunday September 18 taking groups of up to 35 people through the renovated venue in the style of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.

“The idea came when we saw what a wonderfully complex place the Winter Gardens is,” said Lou. “Every room is so different it was just like Alice’s adventures.”

Armed only with a few props and their wits audiences will be guided around various areas of the Winter Gardens by an assortment of extraordinary characters based on Lewis Carroll’s literary characters.

Groups of up to 35 will take part in the 80-minute tour which will take place every 20 minutes during the six day run.

Cast members have been recruited from Blackpool, Liverpool and Glasgow. More than 160 actors auditioned for the 16 roles.

Lynne Payne, who plays the Red Queen, said: “My parents live round here and it sounded like nice work so I thought I’d give it a go.”

Now based in the Midlands where she runs the Rotten Park Road Theatre Company with her husband, Lynne was the Staining Princess when she was seven and took dance and drama at Whittaker’s in Blackpool.

She went to Staining C of E School and later Hodgson High School, taking A-Levels at Blackpool Sixth Form College where she later returned to teach dance for a couple of years before turning to drama after being involved in a traffic accident.

Laura Cockett from Hope Street said the event – which has been funded by the Arts Council of England – is unique to Blackpool Winter Gardens.

“It’s a leap of faith and my take people out of their immediate comfort zone but it’s all designed to be fun,” she said. “It’s specifically designed for the people of Blackpool to bring back memories of this famous venue.”

Hope Street Limited has been producing theatrical spectaculars in unusual places for over 20 years.

Suitable for all ages (but recommended for ages 8+), advance tickets can be bought from the Winter Gardens or Grand Theatre box offices, Blackpool Tourist Information Centre or on the day. Advance booking is advised.