‘STRUT In Wonderland’ a well-organized tale
Assistant Spectrum Editor
The unseasonably chilly weather did nothing to diminish the crowds for “STRUT in Wonderland,” Richmond’s annual fashion and entertainment show. A lengthy line extended from the Stuart C. Siegel Center as VCU students and the general public clamored to buy last-minute tickets for the highly-anticipated show.
Although the production utilized only a quarter of the venue, the layout was ideal for wrangling the audience into a controlled area. With a large white screen behind it and a black rail emphasizing the layers of the stage, the runway was short but appropriate. The width of the stage offered great depth, allotting room for DJ Jeremy Moody to provide a unique performance.
The show, which started about 20 minutes late, told the re-crafted story of a modern day Alice portrayed by model Kamala Bhagat. The beginnings of a story are revealed as Lewis Carroll’s classic story “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is read. A techno beat pumped as the first models hit the runway accompanied by a live performance by local hip-hop trio, Spaceboxx.
The models of “Oh Mr. Rabbit!” walked the runway with small blonde bows placed precariously and appropriately atop their heads. The garments were a spectrum of tans, whites, silvers and hints of reds.
With a smooth transition of narration, the second performers in “Curiouser and Curiouser,” Emily Adams and Erin Wedd took the stage. Their lighted hula-hoops cast a glow on the white background, effectively startling a surprised Alice. She joined the games as the rest of the cast took the stage. Male models in matching, bright pastels and plain, white long johns dominated the stage while female models in coordinating hues donned jumpers with large pockets.
Continuing with their mix of entertainment and fashion, Richmond Ballet trainees Devon Darrow, Lydia McRae, Emily Gallo-Lopez and Bryony McCullough performed a modern dance piece with fashionable flair. Their formal costumes served as an introduction to the floral collection “Do You Suppose She’s a Wildflower.” The designs screamed spring with beautiful peacock dresses and flowing colors and skirts.
“Who Are You” featured male models barefoot in an assortment of vests that came beaded, clothed or laced while female models were integrated as fillers. The tone and beat of the music added to the lazy theme. Alice’s slow walk in a floor-length blue gown proved an audience hit as applause grew.
Flowing seamlessly into a rifting performance by gymnast Christina Dick, “Can You Stand On Your Head,” moved the story along as Alice is pulled deeper into the hole by the Mad Hatter who takes her to the tea party.
The Mad Hatter places a chair on the runway and awaits his guests. Alice, the gymnast, and the Mad Hatter create a backdrop. The models, dressed for a tea party, each straddled, sat or laid on the simple folding chair.
Anticipation grew in the audience as the crew set up choir mikes and a thrown. The choir abruptly took the stage and a lone soprano voice began Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Suddenly interrupted by the “Off With Their Heads!” performance, lights came up to reveal a black-clad Compass Singers soloist belting an excellent version of “Poker Face.”
Soon the pop-locking team of VCU’s Poppers began an entertaining and unique performance. The Queen arrived decked in red, black and white. As the Poppers exited, models took the stage in card-themed garments. From shirts to bobby pins—cards were everywhere.
This finale was an ace in the hole. The Strut Committee must be commended for a very professional program. The technical skill and talent of the models was evident. With audience anticipation so high, it could have been longer but the story was thorough and complete. If this is any indication of future “STRUT” productions, Richmond is in for a treat.