‘Alice in Wonderland’ provides zany energy by Moffat County theater program
For those who may have been getting more and more curious about what the spring play will look like at Moffat County High School, the wait is almost over.
“Alice in Wonderland” takes the stage at the high school this week with shows at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6, Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee.
Admission is $7 for the performances.
The oft-adapted story is about a young girl named Alice who stumbles into a new world of unusual characters, among them a smoking caterpillar, a rabbit obsessed with tardiness, and some very threatening rulers.
Grace Alberico, head of the MCHS choir and theater programs, said she selected the play due to her own love for the 19th century works by Lewis Carroll.
“I find it so funny, and I think a lot of the movie versions don’t capture all the humor of it,” she said. “This version is the most closely related to the book. The quotes are directly from it.”
The literary origin will be impossible to ignore; the most prominent set piece is a vertical background made to look like two book pages.
“When people come to see this, it’s like they’ll be watching the book,” Alberico said. “It’s actually both books since we’ve got ‘Through the Looking Glass’ mushed in there too.”
The background features different vintage illustrations and quotes with each scene projected from the light booth.
Hailey Collins and Celeste Valenzuela are part of the technical crew who make that presentation possible.
“The slideshow with the turning pages is a new thing for this show. Even though it seems like just a normal slide presentation, it took a lot to get it perfect,” Collins said. “It’s nice to see the final product after we’ve done two months of work.”
Collins and Valenzuela are both seniors and have done tech work for every musical and play at the high school in the past four years. Though each show has had its own charms, their personal favorite piece was their freshman year spring play that was shut down due to COVID.
“‘Clue’ was the best one. There was a big blackout where every character got into their killing position and we had different-colored lights on them,” Valenzuela said. “It was really fun.”
English teacher Erin McLeod is the set designer, a role she served during the previous musicals “Beauty and the Beast” and “Once Upon a Mattress.”
“My favorite part of this I think are the mushrooms. You can’t have ‘Alice in Wonderland’ without mushrooms and a teapot and hearts and other playing card stuff,” she said. “I’ve been a drama kid ever since I was in high school. I love that the feeling never changes, that camaraderie between the kids and the crew, it’s amazing. We’ve got a great group of kids working together for the creative process.”
MaryAnn Booker portrays the title character, who’s famously impressed with the fantasy world she’s found but also highly confused by its odd features.
“She’s an innocent girl who doesn’t understand much, but she’s also kind of a brat. It’s like she kind of learns throughout the show that she’s not correct and wrong all the time and needs to learn to control her temper,” Booker said. “I identify with the whole curiosity thing. I’m a curious person, and Alice fell down a giant hole just to see a rabbit in a waistcoat, so I get that.”
As a freshman, Booker said she’s a little on edge about being such a prominent part of the show, largely because she’s onstage for nearly the full runtime.
“There’s two tiny moments where I’m offstage and have to run around back,” she said. “It’s really intimidating. The last play I had a small part, and it felt more carefree and less pressure. But now that I have so many lines to memorize and scenes that I’m in, it’s scary.”
As the White Rabbit who inadvertently brings Alice to Wonderland, sophomore Hannah Kilpatrick said the final week of rehearsal is the most exciting with all the elements in place.
“It’s fun to see everybody in costume because everybody’s really contrasting a lot,” she said. “Seeing all those different things really adds to the whole experience.”
Alice’s dress is stylized after the 1951 Disney cartoon, while the villainous Queen of Hearts is closer to the design from Tim Burton’s 2010 live-action version.
Sophomore Cheyenne Grivy said she’s pleased to don the elaborate costume, makeup and wig that likens her to Helena Bonham Carter.
“I honestly feel like it’s Halloween,” she laughed.
As the Mad Hatter, freshman Ronin Miller said it is tricky not to just repeat the well-known performances.
“I just tried to add my own whimsicality to it,” he said. “I did try to take elements of the animated one and Johnny Depp. I tried to do a Scottish accent in my audition, but it was really hard to keep it up.”
As familiar as many of the characters are, many of those in the cast are those that didn’t make the cut for the Disney films.
Junior Cynae Montoya plays the Duchess, whom readers know has a very unusual baby in Carroll’s book.
Montoya said the role wasn’t far off from playing Queen Aggravain in “Once Upon a Mattress.”
“She has the same sassiness, so that’s nice,” she said.
Montoya said she initially only wanted to serve as the show’s assistant director but filled in onstage given the stage play was less complicated than a musical.
“Having a smaller role made it a lot easier to try and do both,” she said. “It’s been a lot more laidback, but a good laidback. It’s the last show with the seniors I’ve known, and it’s going to be really weird not having them here next year.”
With most of the seniors on the crew rather than the cast, Arianna Crain is one of the few who will be onstage, playing Tweedledee.
“I’m sad that it’s my last show and it’s been a lot of work, but I’m glad I’ve done it,” Crain said. “There’s a lot of poetry with it, and it’s a fun challenge.”
As the stage manager, senior Kimber Eike has grown used to the backstage demands as well as the need to have a play held together by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Eike said she appreciates how much work Alberico has put into the show.
“She really knows how to keep things going, and without her, we would just be in chaos,” Eike said. “Her and all the crew who are underappreciated, we wouldn’t be able to do it without them all.”
Director: Grace Alberico
Director’s Assistant: Cynae Montoya
Stage Manager: Kimber Eike
Crew Leader: Tabbi Mogus
Set Design: Erin McLeod
Alice: MaryAnn Booker
White Rabbit: Hannah Kilpatrick
Mad Hatter: Ronin Miller
March Hare: Grace Elizondo
Dormouse: Kambree Satterwhite
Caterpillar: Bella Short
Tweedledee: Arianna Crain
Tweedledum: Marie Roberts
Red Queen: Cheyenne Grivy
King of Hearts: Jaxom Gunderson
Knave of Hearts: Trevor Odell
White Queen: Guadalupe Lopez
Cook: Olivia Cordova
Duchess: Cynae Montoya
Frog Footman: Mathew Allen
Gryphon: Caleb Crumpton
Mock Turtle: Taya Told
Executioner: Caleb Crumpton
Creatures of Wonderland: Natalie Womble, Treyton Nottingham
Stage Crew: Fantasia Jowell, Miken Madrid, Kaidin Higgins
Tech Crew: Hailey Collins, Celeste Valenzuela, Athan Smith, Liam Letsinger, Michael Sigmon, Kaidin Anthony, Jackson Petree
Set Builders: George Herod, Jeff Womble, Tim Womble
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