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Alice in Wonderland comes to life at North Tama

November 9, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama Drama students will send audiences tumbling down the rabbit hole as they present "Alice in Wonderland" this weekend in the school gym for a show full of imagination.

The classic story finds Alice (Olivia Jones) making way her around Wonderland as she chases the White Rabbit (Emma Scherrer), bumping into many crazy creatures and an insane Queen of Hearts. But before the mad Queen can even utter the words "Off with their head!", the cast had to prepare for a play quite different than in previous years.

"I usually go through the play choice with my seniors and have them pick," Julie Giblin, the director said. "As we were looking, they saw Alice In Wonderland and stuck with that one. The camaraderie they all have with each other made this a good choice for this group. In a school our size, we only had 17 kids total with a play that calls for 30 characters. We have a lot of kids doing two or even three roles this year to make it happen."

Article Photos

Alice (Olivia Jones) and the White Rabbit (Emma Scherrer) form a strange and unlikely friendship in Alice in Wonderland, playing this weekend.

Giblin is joined this year by Rebecca Kenealy, who put in hours to repurpose old costumes for Alice in Wonderland and make the sets "bright and crazy" for the play.

"We looked at the movie and animated adaptions of Alice in Wonderland and took what we could from them," Kenealy said. "Students painted the doors, made the door, painted the roses and the canvasses. Wonderland is a crazy place, so turning a blank slate into something insane takes some time. The students got excited for their characters and invested in their sets to make this possible."

The play stars Alice, who is portrayed by Jones, a senior and drama veteran who took on her biggest role to date with the flighty young girl seemingly trapped in a strange land with few to guide her.

"Alice is basically an idiot in Wonderland as she's unsure of what's going on and is very whiny," Jones said. "Once I worked myself up to auditioning for the lead, I decided I liked the idea of playing someone who is very different from me. I had fun playing someone with a seperate personality to me."

Another iconic character to the play is the White Rabbit, played also by a senior, Emma Scherrer, who has seen plenty of action with previous plays such as The Wacky Wizard of Oz, Little Women and the Little Mermaid. The ever-late White Rabbit felt like a perfect fit to Scherrer as she also took on a larger role in her final year as a performer.

"We got off to a really good start and I feel it's going to turn out well based on our start," Scherrer said. "We have a lot of good energy in play practice, although it's been hard to get the full cast onboard and finding all the roles. It was frustrating at times because we had people leave roles and others had to take on several minor roles."

Time commitment proved difficult with students in multiple activities and other challenges along the way. However, certain students stepped up in their lead roles while others took on parts suited for themselves.

"We had to switch roles last week and having people gone for various reasons can throw practice out of whack," Giblin said. "The time involvement has been difficult, but Olivia Jones really stepped up this year. She has 270 lines, yet she had them all memorized within the first few weeks. She's taken the lead and other students have done well with their parts because they've picked parts which work with their personalities."

With acting in place, Kenealy lead the charge with the sets consisting of previous sets repainted as well as the costumes. Patty Calderwood provided the tree used in the production.

"Besides the acting, the set work was pretty cool to work on," Scherrer said. "I loved seeing all of the costumes and sets come together. It looks nice."

Despite a low budget and having to reuse sets, Alice in Wonderland came into being slowly and steadily over the course of the past six weeks. Both veteran and new actors joined together to paint the sets, memorize lines, and make the play their own.

"I love seeing new people coming in and trying theatre," Jones said. "I liked getting to know everyone. It's this group that made me enjoy this year's play."

With Kenealy on set and costumes work while Gibline concentrated on the acting and stage work, the cast overcame some struggles and scheduling issues to bring a classic to life for the weekend.

"Alice in Wonderland is an age-old classic which takes you to dreamland and your imagination rules the roost," Giblin said. "I loved watching these classics come to life."

Alice in Wonderland will perform on Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in the gym.



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