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By Brian Robin

Four Questions With Director Rob Salas

Rob Salas has always had a passion for directing. It’s a passion he’s indulged as a founding artistic director of Davis Shakespeare Festival, and as an assistant director for three SCR productions—One Man, Two Guvnors, Completeness and Doctor Cerberus.

Now, Salas’ passion brings him to his SCR directorial debut with Alice’s Wonderland, book, music and lyrics by Julia Riew and J. Quinton Johnson, conceived by Linda Chichester and David Coffman. The Theatre for Young Audiences and Families production runs Feb. 10-25 on the Julianne Argyros Stage.

Currently SCR’s Artistic Coordinator, Salas is a Mexican American director who has directed plays at Capital Stage, Play On! Shakespeare, Stockton Civic Theater and New Village Arts, where his skills earned him a mention as one of the best young directors in the region by Sacramento News & Review. He has worked as an assistant director at Berkeley Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Utah Shakespeare Festival.

He took a break from rehearsals to talk about what makes Alice’s Wonderland a wonderful theatre experience for families.

Tell us about the production. What makes this a fun experience for kids and parents?

Rob Salas:Alice’s Wonderland is a fully loaded musical that will be a blast for the whole family. In this version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice is a teenage computer wizard who has coded her first video game called ‘Wonderland.’ The game breaks and Alice gets sucked into the world she built—and there we meet characters inspired by the Lewis Carroll original. Over the course of her adventure, Alice faces off against the Queen of Hearts (in a rap battle, of course!) as she aims to fix the game and return home. The Hamilton-inspired music is what really makes this all so fun, but we also give you everything theatre has to offer to support it: impressive dances, vibrant projections, wild costumes, and more!”

Tell us what lessons are learned from Alice’s Wonderland. What takeaways are there for kids (and parents)?

RS: “The main lesson from Alice is that we don’t need to be so reliant on others for validation. Alice learns to move away from self-doubt and have faith that she’s got everything she needs to win at life.”

What is it about this production that makes it feel like you’re in the middle of a video game?

RS: “Our amazing projections are the main reminder that we are in a video game, as we will see an animated version of the story displayed above the action as we progress through the play. Also— the story itself, as Alice can’t continue on with the plot until she wins each character’s level. We all love video games and it was a blast to add elements throughout to feel like the audience is playing along.”

Tell us about the experience of directing this multi-media production.

RS: “This has been an amazing experience because of the ability to collaborate with such amazing theatre artists. I am on the SCR staff, but have never had the opportunity to really work so much with my colleagues, and it’s been an honor to be able to do so. And I just love all of the performers in the show, the brilliant designers, and everyone behind the scenes. When there are so many elements in a show, you really are reliant on the team around you, and I am just so grateful to each and every person involved.”

About the author

South Coast Repertory

South Coast Repertory is a Tony Award-winning theatre is known for producing classics, contemporary hits and world premieres, for having the largest new-play development program in the nation and for advancing the art of theatre in service to the community. 

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