NOT only is Alice In Wonderland forever linked to this region, thanks to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as author Lewis Carroll) spending time at Croft-on-Tees, but it has become the perfect star vehicle for Geordie Alex Tahnee as the title role character.

“I’d read the books a few times since I was young and always wanted to play the role having been blown away by Alice’s journey and what she goes through,” says Tahnee, who heads a 13-strong cast at Newcastle’s Northern Stage until January.

The 28-year-old has had to cast her mind back to being 11-and-a-half to become the heroine of Northern stage’s follow-up to 2016 sell-out show James And The Giant Peach.

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“A friend of mine has a daughter that age and I met her the other day and it was really interesting to see how she was and gave me something to think about a lot. I’m not trying to play a child but it is fascinating to put that spin on it and I am trying to approach things from the innocence of an 11-and-a-half year old. But there is also the confidence and the bolshiness of a youngster who just gets on with things,” she adds.

Theresa Heskins has adapted this version, adding in part of Alice Through The Looking Glass, with Mark Calvert again directing and keen to highlight all the productions North-East references, including the fact that the Jabberwocky was inspired by County Durham’s Lambton Worm.

Original music for the show is by Jeremy Bradfield, with the cast performing the backing to songs live on stage.

“I play the piano and flute, but I don’t play too much because I’m mostly in the action. There is just one point I play on a keyboard a little. All the other actors drop in and out of playing and I think they’re amazing.

“I don’t actually fall down a rabbit hole, but goes down a trapdoor in a theatre. The beginning is quite different and this version does take liberties, but once we are in Wonderland it takes elements from both books. We’ve still got the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and March Hare plus the Dormouse and White and Red Queens and the Tweedles.

“Alice is definitely a strong Geordie. I’d like to say she’s from Newcastle, but her family actually live on a boat and travel around. My Alice isn’t quite as posh as you normally see and she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. I get songs and dances and a few jokes to do... because I hope I’m funny.

“This is a really physical and vibrant show with so much to watch. I think the show also has a lot of heart where you can possibly feel for Alice a little bit. All the other characters are hilarious... and Alice in Wonderland is really made for a Christmas slot,” says Tahnee.

Part of the workshop audition process involved the actors having to tell a true story about themselves. “I told about when I was at school and got into trouble because I thought I was being chased by the police because I hadn’t been to drama school. It turned out he wasn’t there for that reason and it wasn’t illegal not to go to drama club. I was the Alice age in Year 7 at Dame Allan’s School in Fenham,” she explains.

Tahnee jokes that her mum is attending at least four performances already “and probably end up coming along more than that”. She admits that she’s never considered whether it’s easier to perform on home turf or not.

“I’m not sure about it being a pressure to put on a good show, but it definitely makes it more exciting. I think it is important to get behind the region. This role is definitely one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever had,” says Tahnee.

She trained at Rada and East 15 in London before returning to the region to be part of Northern Stage’s North 13 programme. Another achievement was co-founding Newcastle’s The Letter Room theatre company alongside regional TV roles in Boy Meets Girl and Byker Grove.

“I’ve changed so much as a performer because of the type of work I’ve done and I think that’s where I am now. Part of my history is now with Northern Stage and now I’ve been in a room with everyone there working together on an ensemble piece. I’m playing Alice, but this is an ensemble and it comes together beautifully. It’s not about going home and learning your own lines, it’s much more than that and quite a journey,” she says.

Asked about her unusual surname, Tahnee replies that it is French. “It’s terrible, I don’t know much more about it than that. I will have to ask my mum if she knows anymore because I’ve never done that either. It’s my own name, so it’s pretty ordinary to me,” she says.

After Wonderland, Tahnee doesn’t mind whether she finds a touring role and is keen on working in Manchester, whether it’s theatre or television. “The only thing I think is that I tend to look older than I really am,” she jokes.

  • Alice in Wonderland runs until January 6. Tickets and Information: 0191-230-5151 or northernstage.co.uk