Invitation from Alice (Snow 1996)
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English Title: Invitation from Alice ~Welcome to the Cheshire Cat Hotel~
Japanese Title: アリスの招待状―チャシャ猫ホテルへようこそー
Romanized Title: Arisu no Shoutaijou -Chasha Neko Hoteru e Youkoso-
Performances: Bow Hall, 4/21 - 5/6
Based On: a retelling of The Importance of Being Earnest; set in a town called Alice at a Wonderland-themed hotel
Author / Director: Oota Tetsunori
Composer: Yoshizaki Kenji, Miyahara Tooru
Choreographer: Hayama Kiyomi
Available on DVD: Yes (release date 3/20/06)
DVD Scene/Music Cut: No
|Ernest / Jack||Takane Fubuki|
|Hotel Manager||Ami Jun|
|Aunt Augusta||Shu Michiru|
|Charles Adler||Izumi Tsukasa|
|Professor Jacob||Yabuki Shou|
|Sister K||Mimi Anri|
|Sister J||Shiomi Maho|
|Mrs. Pearce||Kouzuki Mari|
WARNING!! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!
Jack Wilkins is a news writer who prefers to go by his pen name, Ernest Milton. He receives a mysterious invitation to the Cheshire Cat Hotel and takes a week off in order to go check it out. The hotel is a lively if somewhat strange place with curious staff members, and at first Ernest is wary about staying. The hotel manager eventually persuades him, though, offering Ernest free services if he does a favor for another patron. They want him to help break up the engagement of a certain couple, Mary and Charles. As soon as he agrees to stay, a friend of Ernest's arrives — the notorious playboy Michael. Other guests include a pair of nuns, the mysterious "professor" Jacob and his assistant Ross.
Also arriving are the aforementioned Mary, her fiancé Charles and aunt Augusta. Mary is the great-granddaughter of the founder of the hotel. She wishes to stay in the room she had previously, near the veranda, and is irked that it is not available. This happens to be Ernest's room, and when he comes down to see what the trouble is, he and Mary instantly recognize each other. It is not a happy meeting, however, and the two quickly turn away in a huff. Ernest relates to Michael the story of Mary's "betrayal": the two had promised to meet somewhere, but Mary didn't show at the appointed time and place. Separately, Mary recounts to her maid Nancy how it was Ernest who neglected to show.
Afterward, Augusta approaches Ernest. She is the one who wants him to break up Mary and Charles, but is worried about his apparent history with Mary. Ernest invents a story of his twin brother Jack who, having hated his own name since childhood, often went by the name of his brother Ernest. Thus it was Jack who met Mary at that time, and Jack who betrayed her, not he. Augusta relays this information to Mary, who remains suspicious. Ernest is then surprised to run into his young friend Cecily and her teacher Mrs. Pearce, who have been staying at the hotel for three days already. He quickly takes them aside, explaining that they must call him Ernest here although they usually know him as Jack.
In another part of the hotel, Jacob crosses ways with the nuns and seems to remember meeting them somewhere. In turn, Michael wonders where he has seen the professor, and the hotel manager wonders why he recognizes Mrs. Pearce.
Michael also learns that Cecily is staying at the hotel and begs Ernest to introduce him to her. Ernest refuses, knowing Michael's reputation with women. However, he reveals to Michael his habit of going by different names with different people: with Cecily he is the upstanding businessman Jack, and the man who writes those trashy magazine articles is his wicked "brother Ernest". This gives Michael an idea. Ignoring Ernest's repeated warnings, he meets Cecily and Mrs. Pearce and claims to be Jack's brother Ernest.
Then there is Mary's fiance Charles, who is searching out ideal building locations in the town of Alice and is none too liked by the hotel staff. They dissuade him from each prospective spot by telling him stories of strange happenings, tragic deaths, and ghosts in the area. Meanwhile the "nuns" are revealed to be FBI agents searching for a bank robber who they believe is staying at the hotel.
Mary is still steamed about Ernest and doesn't believe a word of the story of his "brother Jack". She thinks back on the day she met Charles at a rodeo in Texas, and how the two of them instantly fell for each other. Charles changed, however, after discovering oil in the fields of his ranch.
Soon Ernest appears, and Mary teasingly attempts to make him reveal the truth about his non-existant twin. But tempers rise again as they recall the past, as Mary waited and waited for "Jack", in the snow, until 3:00. Ernest says he had heard his brother tell this story, only he waited in the rain until 3:00. Mary storms off, bumping into Cecily, who informs "Jack" that she has become engaged to his younger brother "Ernest". Michael is not far behind and Ernest confronts him for going against his wishes, but Michael is determined to have Cecily.
Elsewhere, Jacob overhears the "nuns" and realizes that they are FBI agents in disguise. However, he is more concerned with finding and killing the swindler "Ernest". Clearly he and Ross are members of a criminal organization, and Jacob tells his underling to call their boss and inform him of their progress. Ross, lacking change for a phone, trades a bill with Charles' secretary Louis, who in turn donates the bill to the nuns. They realize that this is the stolen money they were chasing.
Ernest, meanwhile, ponders his situation with Mary and recalls the spring day when they first met. She was suffering from allergies, they instantly fell in love, and Mary suggested that they run away together. They planned to meet at the train station at 9:00, and Ernest waited for her in the rain until 3:00, but she never came. Augusta, having overheard Ernest's monologue, enters and explains where he was mistaken. Mary had arrived at the train station at 9:00 in the morning, and waited in the snow until 3:00PM for him. Ernest, on the other hand, arrived at 9:00PM, when the snow had turned to rain, and thus waited for Mary after she had already given up and left. Cursing his foolish error, Ernest knows that he still loves Mary and wants more than ever to make things right with her.
Augusta tells Mary what she learned from Ernest. Mary understands the mistake, but can't forgive Ernest for lying about having a brother Jack. Just as she says this, a message from "Jack" arrives that he is coming to the hotel and wants to talk to her. She decides to meet with him and expose his childish lies.
Meanwhile Mrs. Pearce struggles to remember how she knows Charles, and Jacob struggles to figure out which man is the real "Ernest". Ernest himself sends another message to Mary from "Jack", asking her to meet him at the riverbank so they can talk. Then Mrs. Pearce approaches Ernest with her worries about Cecily. Even though she apparently knows that Michael is not the "brother Ernest" he claims to be, Cecily has still fallen in love with him. Ernest also worries for Cecily, who is revealed to be his younger sister.
The hotel manager brings in Augusta to speak with Mrs. Pearce. Augusta rather unsubtly launches into a story of her sister's friend who had planned to adopt a foundling, but died in an accident shortly after receiving the baby. This tale apparently makes Mrs. Pearce uncomfortable and she quickly excuses herself. Augusta and the manager are certain that something is up. Then Charles enters, and Augusta offers to show him around in order to distract him from looking for building sites.
Mary meets Ernest by the riverbank, and Ernest again pretends to be the "brother Jack", recounting his mistake at the train station. But she doesn't want to forgive him and demands proof that he's serious. Miraculously, Ernest finds the old train tickets still in his pocket and shows them to Mary as evidence of his dedication. Mary is flattered, but still wants to dispel the lies about "Jack" and "Ernest". She finally gets Ernest to give her the truth, and the two of them reconcile for good. Ernest then brings up the subject of her fiance, but Mary assures him that her relationship with Charles was merely a fairy-tale love and they both know it.
Out on their walk, Charles says the same to Augusta. He goes on to explain how had planned to build a car factory in the town of Alice, but came to realize that he didn't want to give up the idealism of his youth. Augusta is glad that the town isn't going to change, and tells Charles that youthful dreams are all anyone needs.
Michael discovers that Cecily has known all along that he isn't Ernest. She says she wanted to know what kind of person he was before revealing the truth. Fortunately she has fallen in love with him, and now all they need is the blessing of her brother. Cecily admits that she also knows the truth about Jack — they aren't really blood relatives, but she still cares for him as if they were siblings.
Elsewhere, the nuns finally reveal themselves as FBI agents to Augusta, Charles and Louis.
When Michael and Cecily approach Ernest about their marriage, he refuses to allow it. He runs Michael off and warns Cecily that Michael is not the sort of man to stay faithful to one girl. Cecily, however, believes in Michael's promise of love and chases after him despite Ernest's protests. Mrs. Pearce, who also disapproves of their union, goes ahead of Ernest in an attempt to make Cecily see reason.
Ernest then plans to return to the hotel, but Jacob enters and stops him. He takes out a gun and begins shooting at Ernest. A grand chase scene ensues, with Michael running to check out of the hotel, Cecily tailing after him, Mrs. Pearce chasing after Cecily, and Ernest trying to stop Cecily and find Mary while fleeing from Jacob. In all of the commotion, Charles suddenly remembers that Mrs. Pearce is actually Jane, the daughter of his childhood housekeeper. Jacob's shots continue to miss Ernest, until finally Jacob is stopped.
The FBI nuns declare that although the bank robber has been caught, there is also the matter of a kidnapping that must be solved before anyone can leave the hotel. The manager speaks of a woman from the area who loved paintings often did sketches of infants. She left to become a housekeeper at a certain estate, but went missing at some point. At the same time her younger brother, who had been a gardener at a certain estate, had a son go missing. Augusta says this must be a coincidence, but then Michael steps forward. He reveals that his father had been a gardener, and that in his youth he'd been told he had an older brother who was kidnapped. His father's name was Samuel Jordan, which the hotel manager says was his brother's name — making Michael (Jordan) the manager's nephew. Then it's Jacob's turn to step forward. He is Jane (Pearce)'s older brother, the son of the housekeeper who went missing. His mother had been sketching a child in the garden one day, and when she was finished put her sketchbook in the pram instead of the baby. Jacob, trying to be helpful, put the baby in his mother's handbag for her to find when she returned. Unfortunately he soon went off to play and forgot what he had done, and when he came back later the bag was gone. There was understandably an uproar at the estate, and his mother quit her job to save face. In order to have money to support his sister and mother, then, Jacob became involved in a life of crime. However, he insists that he did not kidnap the baby. One of the FBI agents picks up the story — the bag was stolen, but the culprit hadn't expected to find a baby inside. Thus he discarded the handbag at a luggage check in a train station. From there, Augusta realizes that this baby from the bag was the one her sister's friend had adopted.
Through all of these revelations, Ernest has felt that the story had nothing to do with him. But when Jacob says it was a red bag with blue stripes, he cries out in surprise and sends Cecily to fetch the bag. Ernest tells everyone that he himself was found in a handbag as a child. They reason out that if it is the selfsame bag, this means Ernest is Michael's older brother, and the hotel manager's nephew. Charles takes advantage of the lull in the hubbub to try to reminisce with (or rather, hit on) Jane Pearce, but the FBI agent protests that it isn't the time for such things. When Cecily returns with the handbag, Jacob puzzles over it for a long moment before deciding that it is, without a doubt, the same bag. And not only is Ernest Michael's older brother and the hotel manager's nephew, but the bellboys — the manager's sons — are all their cousins.
Everything seems to be drawing to a happy end (except for Jacob, the bank robber, who must leave his sister and face prison), when Ernest interrupts the celebrations. If Michael is his brother, and Cecily is his sister, where does this all stand legally? Augusta points out that they aren't related by blood, but the FBI agent says there's a problem if they're all registered in the same family. Shrugging, Ernest decides it's best to work out these silly details later.
And then it really is a happy end.
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