Nfld. & Labrador

Jillian Keiley thrills Stratford with Alice production

St. John's director Jillian Keiley talks about her colourful production of Alice Through The Looking Glass, a hit at this year's Stratford Festival in Ontario.

Director Jillian Keiley is having a great summer, creating new shows for the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and dazzling audiences with  her production of Alice Through the Looking Glass is stealing the spotlight with rave reviews.

The play is featured at this year's Stratford Festival in Ontario, and has earned acclaim from critics, including a standout rave in the Toronto Star, where Richard Ouzounian described it as "a visual and choreographic feast." 

Jillian Keiley brought her kinetic sense of theatre to Ontario's Stratford Festival this year. (Courtesy of Jillian Keiley)
​Keiley said the show, based on Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, had been selling well since it opened at the end of April, but sales picked up after the Star's rave in late May. 

"It's been mostly very, very full ever since then," said Keiley, 

"Maybe people just want to bring their kids to the theatre — it's really fun for kids. We have stuff coming from the ceilings and we pull out giant jellybeans — it's just so much fun for kids," she said. 

"We used bubbles and we used giant bouncing horses, but everything has a great element of fun."

Keiley isn't the only Newfoundlander on the playbill, either; composer Jonathan Monro put together the music for the production.

Alice Through the Looking Glass will continue at the Stratford Festival until October. (Erin Samuell/Stratford Festival)
She said she is working on plans other productions, particularly when Alice Through the Looking Glass concludes its run at Stratford in October. 

Keiley said Alice Through the Looking Glass will move to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for a stint in December, with a different but similar style of production. 

Keiley has worked much of her career in her home of St. John's, directing hit plays like Tempting Providence and Oil and Water and having helped found the theatre company Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland

She has been artistic director of English theatre at NAC for the last two years.