High school students to present 'Alice in Wonderland'Just shy of a month into the school year, Red Wing High School students are putting the final touches on the fall play “Alice in Wonderland.”
By: Stacy Bengs, The Republican Eagle
Just shy of a month into the school year, Red Wing High School students are putting the final touches on the fall play “Alice in Wonderland.”
The production is loosely based on the 1865 children’s novel written by Lewis Carroll. Kirk Buis adapted the play for modern day - making it appropriate for children by eliminating some storyline to cut down on time, while creating some great characters that engage audiences for any generation, says director Sean Dowse.
“It is a very fun, playful script,” he said.
Since its creation, “Alice and Wonderland” has been considered one of the greatest fantasy tales, tugging on the strings of logic and literary nonsense that give the story lasting popularity among children and adults.
The tale follows the journey of Alice who falls down a rabbit hole and lands in a whimsical world filled with memorable characters.
“It really is a play about a kid who has a great imagination and sees the world in her own way,” said Sylvia Frazier.
The senior plays Alice, her first lead role over several years of acting. Giddy with excitement mixed with an evident layer of talent, Frazier seems to be the perfect fit for the sweet little girl with an upbeat personality.
“I love taking who Alice is into character and letting out my inner child,” she gleefully said.
Students auditioned for the play in the spring, allowing time for the cast to be chosen, costumes to be designed and roles to be embraced before the chaotic crunch of schedules the beginning of a new school year creates.
The fall productions have always followed the same guideline: the scripts chosen are children’s novels.
Although the young actors and actresses may be performing plays intended for a more youthful audience – their level of talent and motivation more than exceeds their own years, supporters said. What might be the most impressive aspect of this year’s performance, besides the acting ability, costumes or charisma of the cast, is the fact the students have had to handle a director swap during their short and essential rehearsal schedule.
Former director Jillynne Raymond recently took a job as the K-8 principal at Pine Island Community School.
What current director Dowse saw when he picked up the script on his first afternoon rehearsing with the students - who had been director-less for the entire week prior - was a group of kids bound and determined to put on a good show.
“This is really well prepared group of young artists,” he explained. “They were ready to work and get things done, it has been a great collaboration so far.”
Dowse has been directing plays since he was in high school and continues to work as executive director at the Sheldon Theatre. He regularly directs the spring high school musical.
One of the highlights of the play is the “Mad Tea-Party,” led by the Mad Hatter herself, senior Mikayla Cota.
“She is crazy awesome,” said fellow actress Lexi Christianson of Cota. Christianson, a freshman, nabbed the role as the infamous Queen of Hearts.
Frazier can’t get enough of the chaos at the table.
“It is going to be great once we get it all down,” she said with a laugh. “Everyone in it is an experienced actor or actress, it’s a crazy tea party and we want to make it as crazy possible – it will be so much fun.”
The cast’s capacity for flair and knack for stage presence allows the audience to feel as if they are a part of the adventure, the exact goal for Dowse and the crew. Embracing the narrative, Dowse made some minor stage adjustments – allowing the students to become more involved and actually acting in the center of the theater’s space.
“It’s been a part of the script all along,” he said. “Plopping Alice in the audience makes her a visually strong part of the play.”
Completing the visualization of an innocent girl’s imagination are the costumes – adding an explosion of color to the high school Little Theater’s dainty-size space.
“I’ve been working on them all summer,” senior Kristen Anderson said about the costumes.
Creating everything from the Queen’s lavish dress to a full-length caterpillar getup, Anderson’s work enhances the on-stage energy, according to Dowse.
“They really brighten up the play,” Dowse said of the costumes. “And with the students so engaged, we are going to come up with some really great stuff.”
Frazier predicted everyone who comes to the play will enjoy it. The production pushes a half-hour timeframe – so expect a lot of acting in a short and sweet delivery.