Lady Margaret and Lord Denis Thatcher were special guests for Ballet West's tie-in to the UK/Utah Festival - the opening of the revival of choreographer Ben Stevenson's "Alice in Wonderland." And there couldn't have been a better production with which to bid farewell to the Thatchers before they headed back to England.

"I can't see any of you because of these footlights," Lady Thatcher jested during a brief presentation before the ballet. "But the arts - music, dance, ballet - are all an important part of our lives.""We are honored by your presence, Lady Thatcher," added John Hart, artistic director for Ballet West. "The dancers promised to do their best."

The delightful tale - and timeless literary classic - adapts wonderfully to the stage. And with the help of poetic recitals (done by Alice) and several mime sequences, the performance offers something for everyone.

Stevenson, artistic director for the Houston Ballet, stuck close to the original story penned by Lewis Carroll, also known as the Rev. Charles Dodgson. And instead of portraying a vain and selfish girl (a la Walt Disney), Stevenson presents sprightly youthfulness in the blonde, blue-dressed lass. He makes her more a heroine as she saves the head of the Knave of Hearts from the Queen of Hearts' wrath.

The comedic pas de deuxs between the sleepy (nocturnal) Dormouse and the giggly Cheshire Cat and the King and Queen of Hearts brought laughter from the audience while the dramatic partnership of Tiger Lily and the Gardener resulted in boisterous applause.

More laughs were forthcoming as the Duchess and the Cook tried to quiet a crying baby. And Alice even sang along with the orchestra during a lobster and turtle step.

The costumes, designed by Nadine Baylis, who was inspired by the original book drawings by Sir John Tenniel, brought more than depth to the performance. They summoned the characters to life. Everything from a magical unicorn and a psychedelic hookah-smoking caterpillar to a fish and two frog footmen stepped and hopped on stage as Alice gleefully watched from her perch on an earthy tuffet.

The sets - including a lowering tree limb (from which the Cheshire Cat made his entrance), a rocky seashore and a parlor tea table - were also designed by Baylis. Tables served as launching pads for the Mad Hatter and the March Hare to dance their spiel.

Joseph Horovitz's score was performed brilliantly by the Utah Chamber Orchestra, with Terence Kern directing. The music set moods and tones as the dancers raced, jetted and lifted each other across the stage. And when the chaotic finale arrived, the orchestra and audience were spun into a choreographic frenzy.

Jennifer Demko's Alice took on the butterflies Thursday night and passed the torch to Erin Leedom on Friday. Jane Wood also danced the role Sunday. Pamela Robison made a graceful Tiger Lily opening night and continued her role Saturday, partnered by Raymond Van Mason in his role as the Gardener.

Those who love the original "Alice" stories will certainly relish the life and movement in this production. And those who've been entranced by the much-seen motion-picture and video versions of the tale will find new aspects to enjoy. The revival of "Alice in Wonderland" is, quite rightly, a dream of a production.