Interview: Alice In Wonderland star Abby Wain

Abby Wain in Alice In Wonderland at Derby Theatre

Photo by Robert Day

Abby Wain in Alice In Wonderland at Derby Theatre Photo by Robert Day

Alice In Wonderland is wowing audiences at Derby Theatre and heading the cast of Mike Kenny’s adaptation of the Lewis Carroll book is Abby Wain.

Here we find out more from the talented local actress in this interview.

Abby Wain was so enchanted by Lewis Carroll’s magical world as a child that her parents thought they should have named her Alice.

Now all grown up, Abby is still just as enchanted by the stories and, as she’s a local girl, playing Alice on stage this Christmas at Derby Theatre is simply perfect for the 25-year-old.

She says: “I have read the stories a lot and watched most of the films that have been made. There is a song in the Disney animated version called In a World of My Own and my parents said they should have called me Alice because I

had a wild imagination and was always somewhere else. So Alice is quite close to my heart.

“It’s Alice’s curiosity that I think appeals to me and her vivid imagination. As a child, I was quite a perfectionist and always wanted everything to be just right. With Alice, I felt I didn’t have to be right all the time so that was quite an escape.

“I think Alice is also trying to make sense of a grown up world - which appears nonsensical.

To a child, grown-ups contradict themselves and when you are kids you are told you can’t do this or that but then see adults doing the same things - I think that’s what children see in the story.

“In my room I still have lots of Alice memorabilia dotted around, so you can see that being cast as Alice in Derby couldn’t be more perfect. It’s almost like it’s fate – that it needed to happen.”

Abby is from Jacksdale, just over the Derbyshire border in Nottinghamshire, and although she has appeared on many local stages, the main house at Derby isn’t among them.

“I was at a dance school from the age of three and performed at the Mansfield Palace Theatre doing their annual shows and we would also compete for scholarships at the Derby Assembly Rooms and Buxton Opera House. We even performed at Blackpool Winter Gardens and Disneyland Paris but never at Derby Theatre – so it’s really exciting.”

Abby was inevitably drawn to a stage career. “I quite like making people laugh and that’s what eventually turned me to acting rather than going down the dancing route - I just enjoy getting that response from people.”

It may be Abby’s first time at Derby Theatre this Christmas but even though it’s only four years since she graduated it won’t be her first Alice.

She says: “I played Alice last year in Alice’s Adventures Underground which was an immersive piece of theatre and much darker than it will be in Derby. The audience actually went through Wonderland.

“I’m delighted to be playing Alice again. It’s quite hard to find new things in Alice but that’s a nice challenge for me to have and this production will be very different.

“I believe there will be a lot of movement so I think I have my work cut out. I do aerial stuff so I think I may well be tumbling down that rabbit hole. That’s something that will be worked out during rehearsals.”

Children’s theatre is something that Abby is passionate about, having already crafted her own show.

“At the moment I’m trying to write a children’s book. Everything comes down to imagination and you can go a bit wild with it, be silly and that’s what I like.

“I adapted and directed a Grimm fairytale for a festival when I left drama school. We called it the Fish in the Denim River. We made the river out of denim jeans and it was all about pollution and we used bits of rubbish to make puppets. It was lovely to play around with these things and make something come alive.

“It is something I would like to do more of in the future. I’m still quite young and naive when it comes to funding applications so right now I need more experience working for other people. In the future I want to write as well.”

For now though she’s just happy being part of Alice in Wonderland at Derby Theatre.

“Christmas time is when the most people go to the theatre, which is exciting and there is that festive buzz and a lot of children in the audience who give you that warm feeling when they are watching something magical at that time of the year. It’s also nice to be performing at home around Christmas, which has never happened before in my career. It means my family can come and see me which they can’t always if I am in London.

“In fact, there are coachloads of family and friends coming - so there will plenty of pressure on me this Christmas!”

Alice In Wonderland is on at Derby Theatre until January 7. Call the box office for ticket details on 01332 593939.