Ultimate ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Alice in Wonderland is one of the few stories that resonate with every generation. Elements of Alice are constantly appearing throughout pop culture, whether it’s songs like White Rabbit from Jefferson Airplane or action films like The Matrix. Now Alice in Wonderland is being presented to a whole new generation in its most fantastic incarnation yet: live action 3-D. With the film quickly drawing upon the world on March 5, Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Records took over the Hollywood & Highland Center to immerse the crowd in all things Alice.

Partnering with KIIS-FM and MySpace, Walt Disney Studios invited several musical artists who contributed to the Almost Alice album – “imaginative compositions brought to life by the fantastical world of Alice in Wonderlandto perform a short set in the main courtyard of the Hollywood & Highland Center. Manny on the Streets from local radio station KIIS-FM hosted the event onstage while MySpace personality Roslynn Cobarrubias and YouTube personality Philip DeFranco interviewed each artist before they performed. A giant JumboTron hung above the stage to display the performances and interviews in crystal clear high definition for the crowd that gathered against the railings of every level, like spectators in a Roman coliseum. In the courtyard below, fans were invited to dress in their best Alice in Wonderland costumes, which ranged from simple, store-bought affairs to elaborate, just-like-the-movie getups. Costumes were judged by Academy Award-winner Colleen Atwood who is also the costume designer for the film. The Ultimate Fans – both in costume and plainclothes – crowded the stage and rocked out to each of the sets.

First up was Estonian singer-songwriter Kerli. She was dressed in a sexy black and white dress with what appeared to be a panda head stitched to the front of her skirt. She performed her single Walking on Air as well as two tracks from the Almost Alice album: Tea Party and Strange. For the latter piece, a harpist joined Kerli onstage dressed in white and covered in white makeup for a visually stunning performance. Between songs Kerli threw candy into the audience, which had fans diving over each other.

Never Shout Never took the stage next with the current members of his touring band “The Shout.” He played three songs: What is Love?, Jane Doe and Sea What We Seas. The last song is supposedly a track on the Almost Alice album, but Never Shout Never is curiously not listed as one of the contributing artists nor is Sea What We Seas one of the tracks. Nevertheless, he put on a show that had the young girls screaming. In a show of bravado, he even stopped the last song after the first few measures in order to ask the crowd to hold up their cell phones in place of lighters.

Metro Station had a slightly longer set, playing four songs consisting of Kelsey, 17 Forever, Shake It and Where’s My Angel. The last song is their contribution to the Almost Alice album. Metro Station was obviously a crowd favorite and they started getting cheers when they appeared on the JumboTron before taking the stage. Once they started playing, co-frontman Trace Cyrus – Miley Cyrus’ half-brother – got the crowd amped with his trademark high-energy antics.

Rounding out the performances was two-man group 3OH!3, which was the biggest draw for the evening. In fact, shoppers at the local Hot Topic were given wristbands for an exclusive meet-and-greet with the group and were given access to the preferred viewing pit in front of the stage. The group’s energetic performances were stretched over five songs: Starstrukk, Hit It Again, Don’t Dance, Don’t Trust Me and their Almost Alice contribution Follow Me Down. Despite having absolutely nothing on stage to accompany them, 3OH!3 still got the crowd moving and throwing up the group’s signature hand sign.

The lucky fans that were admitted into the viewing pit were also granted a sneak preview of select footage from the upcoming Alice in Wonderland film at the El Capitan Theater across the street. Everyone else got to enjoy the recently and temporarily remodeled Hot Topic, which had been re-imagined as a setting out of the Alice in Wonderland film. Giant trees grew out of the front of the store. Oversized mushrooms towered over customers. There was even an Alice lookalike wandering the premises.

Throughout the evening, recorded interviews with the cast of Alice in Wonderland punctuated the performances. The cast shared their thoughts on the film, their characters and their experiences during production. After the last band exited the stage, everyone was pleasantly surprised to see the cast appear live on the JumboTron for interviews with the hosts of the event. The hope that the cast would actually step out on stage was palpable in the audience. Sure enough, director Tim Burton walked out onstage to introduce select actors, which included Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Mia Wasikowska and, of course, Johnny Depp. The roar of the crowd was deafening.

Check back for more Working Author coverage of Alice in Wonderland.