Lester the Jester does not appear in Lewis Carroll's original novel. He was intended by the writers of this TV version to be a direct imitation of the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz", which, at the time that this "Alice" was telecast, was rapidly becoming the most popular theatrical film on television (the most famous version of that story, The Wizard of Oz (1939), was, at that time, telecast annually by CBS.)
Judi Rolin, born November 6, 1946, was 20 years old performing the role of a very young Alice in the 1966 color television musical. Producer Bob Wynn (b:1932-12/12/2013; d:81) in the Sony DVD showcase extra material interview related finding Judi Rolin was their answer for the role of Alice. The actress was blond, petite, could dance, with a beautiful voice and fulfilled every aspect the difficult role required.
Jimmy Durante's Humpty Dumpty costume was constructed to hold two actors, as the Humpty Dumpty character sat upon the stone wall. Durante at age 73, (b:02/10/1893-01/29/1980; d:86), stood inside the costume, straddling another performer inside the lower costume's egg shape. The seated actor-dancer sat on the wall with his legs stretched forward, dangling off the wall perch with Durante standing behind him. When Humpty Dumpty falls backwards at the end of the musical number, both performers inside the egg shaped costume rolled backwards into the arms of stage-technicians standing on a mattress cushion catching them in their backward fall.
Vocal numbers were recorded with a symphonic orchestra comprised of members from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hollywood film community of studio union musicians. The video taped production's musical vocals were performed in a lip-sync performance during the live musical stagings. A 33.1/3 rpm LP vinyl disk sound-track of the cast's musical studio recording was released in conjunction with the NBC television network event.
Roy Castle, unknown to the American public and totally unknown to television audiences in 1965, was introduced to New York's Broadway musical theatre audiences by the American Producer David Merrick; Produced in association with Bernard Delft; the 1964 British stage musical import production "Pickwick" starring actor Harry Secombe at the 46th Street Theatre, (10/04/1965 - 11/20/1965; 56 total performances); Music by Cyril Ornadel; Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse; Book by Wolf Mankowitz; Based on "The Pickwick Papers" by Charles Dickens; Music orchestrated by Eric Rogers; Musical Director: Ian Fraser; Vocal arrangements by Ian Fraser; Directed by Peter Coe; Choreographed by Gillian Lynne; Scenic Design by Sean Kenny; Costume Design by Roger Furse and Peter Rice; Lighting Design by Jules Fisher. Roy Castle's 1965 performance in the role of Sam Weller was nominated for Broadway's 1966 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "Pickwick."
Born June 11, 1921, Tony Charmoli is an American dancer, theater and television choreographer, and a theater and television director. He began dancing on Broadway in such shows as "Make Mine Manhattan" but soon began choreographing for television with "Stop the Music" in 1949. Charmoli then choreographed dance sequences for the popular television music variety series "Your Hit Parade," winning his first Emmy Award in 1955. He went on to direct and choreograph for some of the biggest stars including Dinah Shore, Lily Tomlin, Danny Kaye, Julie Andrews, Cyd Charisse, Shirley MacLaine, Mitzi Gaynor, and others. On Broadway, Tony choreographed "Ankles Aweigh" (1955) and "Woman of the Year" (1981) with Lauren Bacall. During the 1970 decade, Charmoli focused his talents on directing for television, where he has directed such programs as the famous 1977 production of "The Nutcracker starring Mikhail Baryshnikov," which the television special was nominated for two Television EMMY's (neither nomination was for Charmoli, however). He directed and choreographed nearly all of Mitzi Gaynor's television specials in the 1970s as well as two of Shirley MacLaine's television network specials. He also worked many times with Sid and Marty Krofft, directing all seventeen series seasons of "Lidsville" and "The Bugaboos" respectively, as well as their special "Fol-de-Rol." He also directed the first two years of "Star Search" (1984-85), and several years of "Circus of the Stars," as well as "John Denver and the "Muppets: A Christmas Together" (1979), winning the Directors Guild Award. Charmoli also directed several Bob Hope specials, more than twenty televised beauty pageants, and the short-lived summer replacement series "The Keane Brothers Show" (1977). Charmoli is the recipient of three Emmy Awards, plus eight other Emmy nominations.
The oldest Smothers' brother Tom at age 29 (b:02/02/1937) and youngest brother Dick at age 27 (b:11/20/1939) were cast as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee Twins. The Smothers Brothers, a comedy team-act had been appearing in comedy clubs, on the summer state fairs' circuit, and with television variety show appearances including ABC's Saturday night comedy-variety series "The Hollywood Palace." Casting the Smothers Brothers for the NBC special was prior to their hosting their (1967-1970) CBS Television comedy series "The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour" - a prime time comedy variety hour series that would become notorious for its topical satirical humor. Their appearance on the "Alice Through The Looking Glass" special was a brilliant casting choice by Alan Handley and Bob Wynn. The brothers were a delight during rehearsals and the taping. Their television "Alice" appearance occurred prior to their problems with CBS which occurred after their second, and during their third 1969-70 season series of "The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour." It has long been widely believed that the Smothers Brothers were canceled. In fact, their show had been renewed for the 1969-1970 season, and they had sold over 90 percent of the ad space available. It was only when Tom Smothers began lobbying the FCC and members of Congress over corporate censorship that CBS President Robert Wood fired them. This firing resulted in a breach of contract lawsuit, in which CBS lost and ultimately had to pay the brothers for their third contracted television series season in 1973. The Smothers Brothers planned to tape the 1969-70 season in San Francisco, center of the counter-culture movement at the time, but CBS fired the Smothers in the spring of 1969.
A Sunday night prime-time television event - "Alice Through the Looking Glass" - was a NBC Color Television Special Telecast Presentation, sponsored by The Gas Company, on November 6th, 1966. An adaptation of Lewis Carroll's second sequel novel "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" (1871), initially conceived to follow the pattern of NBC's 1950's 90 minute color television anthology television event series - "Producers' Showcase" - presented once a month, every fourth Monday night. The musical fantasy special was in the spirit of NBC's 1955 anthology "Producers' Showcase" series, the Broadway 1955 telecast of Mary Martin's musical stage hit "Peter Pan," again, in 1960, a remounted "Producers' Showcase" presentation special, the original Mary Martin Broadway musical cast in "Peter Pan." The NBC television special concept for "Alice Through the Looking Glass" was conceived as a television scenario song and dance adaptation of the original Lewis Carroll novel turned into a fantasy immersion musical event (variety) featuring Hollywood film and television personalities. The television property was offered to and sponsored by The Gas Company and by the NBC Television Network. The original Lewis Carroll story-book was adapted into a musical-dance-play-script, written by Albert Simmons. Music material was composed by Moose Charlap with lyrics by Elsie Simmons, Albert Simmons wife. Musical arrangements and orchestrations were by Don Costa. Harper MacKay conducted the NBC studio orchestra. Produced by Bob Wynn and Alan Handley; Executive Producer E. Jay Krause. Directed by Alan Handley; Choreography by Tony Charmoli; Production Designed by E. Jay Krause; Costumes designed Ray Aghayan and Bob Mackie.
Mercury Records released the LP album from the Sound Track of the television special "Alice Through The Looking Glass" - produced by Neely Plumb and Darel Rice. Side 1 featured the following musical material: "Through the Looking Glass," Chorus (1:34); "There Are Two Sides to Everything," Robert Coote, Nanette Fabray, Ricardo Montalban, Agnes Morehead, (3:27); "I Wasn't Meant to Be a Queen," Nanette Fabray (3:24); "Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are," Judi Rolin (2:01); "Jabberwock Song," Jack Palance (2:00); "Keep on the Grass," Roy Castle (3:12). Side 2 featured the following musical numbers: "Some Summer Day When You Look at the Heart of a Rose," Ricardo Montalbano (2:21); "The Backwards Alphabet," brothers Tom and Dick Smothers and Judi Rolin (2:09); "Who Are You?," Judi Rolin (3:03); " 'Twas Brillig," Jimmy Durante, Judi Rolin (2:17); "Alice is Coming to Tea," Nanette Fabray and Agnes Moorehead (2:44); "Alice Through the Looking Glass," Chorus (1:34). The "Alice Through The Looking Glass" LP vinyl TV show album had two re-issues because of the television show popularity.
Author Albert Simmons digressed from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" adaptation introducing a fantasy fairy tale twist by introducing "three evil legendary children's storybook character witches" into the plot's scenario with Alice's path passage blocked and challenged by the witch's magical straw-broom stick fence barrier on the stone trail elevated pathway. Character actress Mary Esther Denver at age 48 (b:1918-1980; d:62) performed the third evil cackling witch based upon the evil witch from the "Hansel and Gretel" fairy tale. The first "Snow White" with an apple in hand witch was character actress Georgia Simmons at age 82 (b:1884-1980; d:96). The second "Sleeping Beauty" witch was character actress Sara Taft at age 73 (b:1893-1973; d:80). Their scene was performed live with the witch's (actress' in make-up and costume) in an off-stage electronic Chroma-key-blue-screen process, matted into the live performance with Alice standing on the sound-stage's stone path-road-walk-way setting, a four foot high zig-zag run-way-path platform setting, with the scenic painted landscape profile backing background placed in front of the studio's off-white muslin cyclorama.
"Alice Through the Looking Glass" was video taped with five video cameras, and one crane-camera, on stage 4, NBC Color Television Studios located at 3000 W. Alameda Boulevard in Burbank, California. The scenic elements, designed by E. Jay Krause, including sets, painted scrims and backings, studio floors, all were built and painted in the NBC Color Television Studios' technical construction shop-mill, special effects department, scenic department, graphic division and drapery department. All of the costumes designed by Ray Aghayan and Bob Mackie were constructed and completed in the NBC Burbank Wardrobe and Costume Shop under the supervision of Angie Jones. The production was rehearsed in the NBC rehearsal halls located past the studios' artist entrance, the main entrance hallway, opposite Stages 1 and 3. The production's musical special was video taped on stage 4 during a period of ten tape days; with stage turn-around for new sets/scenic elements re-sets, new stage-set lighting, with stage technical crews striking video-taped sets, setting up new production number sets between video-taping segments, usually performed overnight.
In the musical's opening sequence, Alice descends the foyer hallway entrance staircase set, the father is entertaining guests in the family's living room, located at camera left. Richard Denning at age 52, (b:03/27/1914-10/11/1998; d:84), performed the role of Alice's father. He joins Alice, and they walk into the family (camera right) library and study (stage setting). This main interior set complex was borrowed (loaned) stage sets from the NBC day-time serial drama "Days of Our Lives" designed by John Shrum. These studio sets were originally designed by Spencer Davies who was a NBC Studio art department-art director staff member with both John Shrum and E.Jay Krause. When Alice steps into, through the mantle pier looking glass mirror, into the reverse side of the study, into the theatrically painted reverse-mirror-image stage set, duplicate stage set dressing furniture and props were painted in the off white and Grey-blue tinted room area. The reverse study drapery window treatment is like a paper model treatment of the actual library-study's soft velour fabric french window drapery treatment. The scenically painted wall detail treatment in scenic terminology is called "Beaton Lines" - a theatrical scenic drawing style created by the English stage designer Cecil Beaton, which he used in his scenic stage set paint illustrations and in Beaton's sketching technique. This paint technique became vogue in 1960s Broadway and television scenic styles; scenic artists used felt pen markers creating a broad-sketch pen and ink drawing technique exaggerated style of cross hatching, vertical and horizontal line drawing/etching details. The size and scale of both the family library-study and the reverse set scenic-painted library-study room are nearly identical in plan; except the painted library-study was wider in scale to accommodate the first major musical number staging of the Red (Chess) King performed by Robert Coote at age 57; (b:02/09/1909-11/26/1982; d:73); the Red (Chess) Queen performed by Agnes Morehead at age 65; (b;12/06/1900-04/30/1974; d:73); the White (Chess) King performed by Ricardo Montalbano at age 45; (b:11/25/1920-11/26/1982; d:88); and the White (Chess) Queen performed by Nanette Fabray at age 45; b:10/27/1920); singing and spinning in place, performing the Tony Charmoli at age 44 (b:06/11/1922) staging and choreography - with the cast performing a - in-place spin - in the choreographic routine for "There Are Two Sides to Everything." The production number required the Chess Kings and Chess Queens to spin around in their double-sided costumes; the completed video taping sequences had to be edited together, married, when and after the video tape recording was stopped. In the final assembly and editing of the number, the tape-editors sliced the vinyl video tape with razor blades, joining the video tape sequence on each of the production number's actor's spin. Video tape married together in the final editing composition process. Each time the performers spin, the actors had to change in wardrobe, into the back-side of their costume, to continue the number. Each costume had a silicone face mask which was positioned on the reverse chess costume head-crown-piece after the actors stepped out of, and into the other costume side. The dance sequence and production number required extensive rehearsal and taping to accomplish the "turn around" spin song and dance "There Are Two Sides to Everything".
This is not the definitive adaptation of the Lewis Carroll "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" story, but the television musical fantasy special is an appealing throwback to a time when networks put on original family-friendly event entertaining productions. "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" (1871) is a novel by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), the sequel to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865). Set some six months later than the earlier book, Alice again enters a fantastical world, when she ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror's reflection. Prompted in the television dream fantasy by the Red Chess King, Alice climbing up on the family's library fireplace mantel, Alice pokes at the pier wall-mirror over the fireplace and discovers, to her surprised amazement, that she is able to step through the mantle's pier "looking glass" mirror into an alternative magical dream fantasy world. In this imaginative room's reverse-reflected blue-black and Grey-white version of the library-study she has just stepped from in her house, this time by climbing through a looking glass mirror into the world that she views beyond in the family library-study's pier looking glass wall mirror. The original Lewis Carrol "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" novel includes such celebrated verses as "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter", and the episode involving Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The actual mantle pier looking glass mirror which inspired Lewis Carroll to write the story remains displayed in Charlton Kings, England.