Lindsey Noel Whiting as Alice in Lookingglass’ production of “Lookingglass Alice”. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Phenomenal. Amazing. Wildly imaginative. A production in the figurative sense (but close to the literal sense) out of the ordinary.

And that doesn’t even come close to capturing the absolutely brilliant (and sometimes terrifying) production of “Lookingglass Alice,” the namesake show from the Lookingglass Theater that has seen half a dozen reincarnations since it hit a Chicago stage in 1988. It has now been overhauled and excitingly reassembled on the company’s rigged stage in the Water Tower Water Works building on Michigan Avenue.

Cleverly adapted and directed by David Catlin (in association with The Actors Gymnasium), with spectacular circus and movement design by Sylvia Hernandez-Stasi, this action-packed 90-minute show features an absolutely dazzling and multi-talented. Leading the way is Lindsey Noel Whiting (really “the girl in the flying trapeze”) as Alice. Joining here is Adeoye as the mischievous and muscular Cheshire Cat, Michael Rodriguez Cintra as the wild and wacky White Rabbit, Kareem Bandealy as the incredibly arrogant Red Queen and Samuel Taylor as the daredevil and intelligent White Knight Charles Dodgson , the famous Victorian era. writer (and mathematician) better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll.

Still generating well-deserved applause is a surprise opening scene that I won’t divulge other than to remind you that this story is all about Alice moving to the other side of a mirror and getting entangled in a dream. madly surreal, alternatively bizarre and intelligent which vaguely plays on the rules of a game of chess and the notions of time and space. The story leads 7-year-old Alice through a long, mentally and physically upsetting experience that somehow earns her the nickname queen.

Along the way, there’s extraordinary acting, plenty of comedic riffs, daring acrobatic feats (without a Net), and pure physical magic generated by moments of jaw-dropping physical terror that complement the many stunts mentalities of the show. There’s the craziest tea party imaginable, and surprises happening both in the air and in the basement (including a rhythmic, almost balletic explosion of 16 folding chairs that’s an extreme coordination exercise performed at perfection). And there’s the awkward interplay of the Tweedledum and Tweedeldee twins, several wild and crazy unicycle rides, a shoe storm, a spiel of sense and nonsense and more.

Adeoye and Michael Rodriguez Cintra perform in Lookingglass' production of Adeoye and Michael Rodriguez Cintra perform in Lookingglass’ production of “Lookingglass Alice”. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The show’s endless array of stunts demands utterly extraordinary performances of action, dancing, balancing, and jaw-dropping (sometimes edgy) acrobatics and gymnastics from this cast. At the same time, there’s a lot of cleverness and puns, and a real realization of what Lewis Carroll envisioned in this enduring work that considers the nature of existence and consciousness, the phenomenon of time and of direction, the power of dreams, the play of power games, the wisdom of puzzles and the mechanics of the human engine we call imagination. In many ways, Carroll’s storytelling was “meta” before its time.

The energy, skill and daring required of the cast is staggering. And while every performance is ideal and ideally quirky, it’s Whiting’s stunning portrayal of Alice that continually dazzles. A diminutive figure of gargantuan strength and nerves of steel, Whiting’s aerial routines on a circular trapeze are stunning and put audiences in a state of total emotional suspension.

Be surprised too, as she balances an actor (who probably weighs at least twice as much as she does) on her back. On top of all that, she brings a wonderful sense of confusion and determination to her portrayal of Alice. It’s simply small but mighty at every turn. (And note: Throughout the series, Molly Hernandez will alternate with Whiting as Alice.)

Across the board, this is a highly crafted spectacle, with set design by Daniel Ostling, lighting by Christine A. Binder, solid (but chilling) rigging design by Lee Brasuell, fantastic costumes by Mara Blumenfeld and the music of Andre Pluess and Ben Collins-Sussman adding to its magic. The show’s team of stagehands who ensure that every cast member enters and exits the stage safely also deserves a round of applause.

Alas, if only Lewis Carroll could see this spectacle. But maybe he’s watching from somewhere in another dimension – through a mirror.

“Lookingglass Alice” runs through July 31 at the Lookingglass Theater, 821 N. Michigan Ave. For tickets, visit or call 312-337-0665.

Follow Hedy Weiss on Twitter: @HedyWeissReview