Stage Door News

Sarnia: Sarnia playwright Matt Murray writes “Alice in Winterland”, his fifth panto for Ross Petty

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Sarnia’s Matt Murray tackled and twisted the story of Alice in Wonderland while writing this year’s annual Ross Petty Productions’ holiday musical.

The second annual holiday season family show the Toronto-based production is offering virtually to audiences because of pandemic restrictions, Alice in Winterland is also the fifth of the company’s fractured fairy tales to be penned by Murray.

“I feel really fortunate that Ross Petty keeps entrusting me with the gig,” he said.

Murray grew up in Sarnia, where he performed in community theatre before leaving to study at Sheridan College, and then begin an acting career in musicals, film and television.

Several years ago, he also began writing plays and musicals, including the book for Grow, a musical premiering in the spring at London’s Grand Theatre.

The Ross Petty Productions holiday musical has now been presented for more than 25 years in Toronto, becoming very much a tradition for theatre lovers.

“I think it’s the number one holiday show in the country,” Murray said. “To be a part of that, and a part of such a long-standing legacy, is something I’m really proud of.”

The annual family musical is its own take on the British holiday pantomime tradition, combining colourful costumes and characters, popular songs, dance numbers, jokes and lots of fun with a well-known story or fairytale.

Murray said the process starts with the production team deciding in the spring on a title, as well as “how are we going to turn it on its head?”

This year’s story is a sequel to Alice in Wonderland and set 15 years after her trip down the rabbit hole, he said.

The story’s namesake is now living in Wonderland and about to celebrate the grand opening of her organic mushroom shop – Allie’s Shroom Room.

“Her plans for a big opening, and also to try to move on from her former legacy and carve out a new identity, are thwarted by the arrival of the evil ice witch, Frostina, who is threatening to take over Wonderland and turn it into a wasteland for her singular enjoyment, known forthwith as Winterland,” Murray said.

This causes havoc among its residents “and also propels Alice to put on the proverbial blue dress and once again save Wonderland from tyranny,” he added.

Directed by Mike Fly and Tracey Flye, the cast includes Kimberly-Ann Truong, who appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon, as Allie, Dan Chameroy, back as the show’s iconic Plumbum, along with Eddie Glen, Sara-Jeanne Hosie and Thom Allison.

“We were hopeful we would be back in the theatre this year, but it was just too much of a dice roll,” Murray said.

Petty decided on a virtual production again this year, streaming Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are $35 per household for 48 hours of unlimited view. Information can be found online at

Murray said Petty partnered with “a fantastic production company” and “I think the visuals are going to be pretty spectacular.”

The production also gives the audience opportunities to choose their own adventure at times during the show.

“It’s going to be a real hoot,” Murray said. “It is fun for the whole family, it really is.”

By Paul Morden for

Photo: Matt Murray; Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Eddie Glen, Kimberly-Ann Truong and Dan Chameroy, © 2021 Ross Petty Productions.