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The Next Stage

News Feature

News & Events

October 23, 2013

BSU Theater's fall musical, "Painted Alice," the world premiere by William Donnelly, '94, was chosen to be performed at the Region One Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival later this month.

The play was one of five productions chosen from the region, which encompasses all of New England and New York. Dr. Suzanne Ramczyk, theater professor and director of the play, said more than 20 BSU students are involved in the production.

Last year when "Painted Alice" was playing at BSU, we chatted with Mr. Donnelly about his play. In honor of "Painted Alice" being selected to the festival, we reprise the conversation below.


The play, "Painted Alice," takes audiences on a mad-cap ride down the rabbit hole of an artist’s imagination.

The playwright is William Donnelly,’94, of Shrewsbury, whose work is no stranger to the stages on campus. During his student years, his plays were produced at his alma mater. Additionally, Mr. Donnelly was awarded a Playwriting/New Theatre Works grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2005. He has twice been named a Clauder Competition Finalist and his play, Magnetic North, was awarded the grand prize in 2006. The lyrics for Painted Alice were written by Donnelly’s writing partner, Michael Mahler, and Donnelly himself. The music was composed by Michael Mahler. Directing the production is Suzanne Ramczyk, who has directed numerous BSU productions.

Recently, we caught up with Mr. Donnelly to chat about this musical twist on an old favorite.

Is this the first musical you've written?
It’s the second. The first one was called Soma which was staged at Bridgewater back in 1995.
Where did the idea for a “grown-up” musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland come from?
It’s not so much a musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland as it is a musical adaptation of Painted Alice, which is a play that was inspired by the Lewis Carroll books. My wife gets credit for the original idea. She’s a director, and back in the early 2000s she told me that she was interested in working on something inspired by Alice in Wonderland or something where a painter gets trapped in her own canvas. So we combined the ideas. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Can you talk a bit about the adult twists?
I can tell you we’ve got a self-important art critic who’s not unlike a caterpillar and a club scene that’s kind of like a mad tea party. But the hope is that the story works whether or not you know the Alice books ... or whether or not you even like them.
Any famous “hipsters” or “painters” making appearances in your musical?
Some well-known artists are name-checked but we don’t have any historical figures running around.

What’s next for you?
Not really sure what’s next. I’ve got a couple things I’m trying to figure out but I’ve got two young kids and a day job and a puppy that keeps chewing up everything in the house so there’s no telling when the next script might get done. One of these days. Or never. It’s always a mystery.

Painted Alice will be performed Oct. 25 and 26 at 8 p.m., Oct. 27 at 2 p.m., and Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. All performances will be in the Rondileau Campus Center Auditorium at 11 Park Ave. Tickets are $15 for general public and $10 for seniors, military, and students with an ID. Contact the box office at 508.531.1321 or email for information and reservations.  (Interview by John Winters, University News; photo by Professor Matt Greene)


A scene from Painted Alice