When the crowd’s ovation dies down after tonight’s performance of “Alice in Wonderland,” the curtain will close on more than just a cast of 13 Moffat County High School students.
The lights will go down on months of hard work by a cast and technical crew of young, dedicated students.
It will mark the end of a debut director’s journey of learning, experimenting and watching his students grow on stage and off.
For senior Janna Thompson, today’s performances are the final act in a four-year high school acting career. `
“It’s a bittersweet moment to have built up to,” she said, standing in the dimly lit dressing room Thursday just before opening night. “I’ve put my soul into this program. It’s sad that it’s my last production here. But, in my four years here, the training and experience this program has given me, I’ll bring that with me.”
The play opened Thursday night to an audience of more than 100 people. Children and adults laughed and clapped along with the wildly unpredictable story of a young girl who follows a white rabbit down its hole into an imaginary world.
The final two performances of “Alice in Wonderland” will take place at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. today in the MCHS auditorium, 900 Finley Lane.
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 11 and free for children younger than under 5. Following each performance, the cast members will reappear in the MCHS cafeteria, in character and in costume, for a tea party featuring scones and juice.
Children can have autographs signed by the cast and sit by them during the party. Admission is $3.
Director and high school teacher Casey Kilpatrick said Thursday’s opening night performance was “off the charts.”
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen them do,” he said. “Everyone kept asking me, ‘Are you nervous?’ No, I just have to sit there and watch. At that point, I’ve done all I can do. They know what they need to do and where they need to be. But (on Thursday) night, they gave it so much energy. They really fed off the audience.”
The cast features several underclassmen, and Thomp-
son and costar Jesse Mon-
toya are the only two seniors.
Montoya was cast as the Cheshire Cat just a week before opening night, filling in for another student who had a scheduling conflict.
Thompson, who will attend acting school in Los Angeles in the fall, plays the murderous Queen of Hearts.
“Janna is a very special student,” Kilpatrick said. “She has just been a rock for this program. A lot of kids are flighty or flakey, but Janna, I could rely on her for everything. I think she’s one of those students that will be quietly missed.”
Despite losing seniors, Kilpatrick has the next generation of MCHS thespians to consider. He double cast the role of Alice, alternating junior Emily Miller and freshmen Karli Griffith.
Miller will play the role in the morning performance today, and Griffith will act at night.
“Emily did a really good job (Thursday) night,” Kilpatrick said. “She really captures the innocence and girlishness of Alice. I can’t wait to see what Karli brings to the table.”
Kilpatrick also didn’t hesitate to praise the technical crew of three freshmen and one senior.
Lighting, sound effects, music and a rabbit hole have only complemented the heavy use of dialogue in the adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s novel.
Throughout the performance Thursday, the audience was treated to a series of nonsensical events, like a tea party that lasts forever, featuring a Mad Hatter, played by freshman Cody Fallon, who sings about tea and crumpets to a Lady Gaga tune.
There’s a beat boxing performance, a literal sea of tears and a confusing game of croquet played with plastic flamingos.
But the play also reminds its audience to keep an open mind and give in to laughter, of which there was plenty to fill the auditorium Thursday.
As the Queen of Hearts would say, “Never turn your nose up at nonsense.”