Down the rabbit hole: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ comes to Prospector theatre
Everyone knows the story. A girl named Alice falls down a rabbit hole into a fantastical land filled with peculiar, whimsical creatures.
But whether you’ve read the book, seen the cartoon, watched the recent Tim Burton version or all of the above, you haven’t seen "Alice in Wonderland" like this.
Starting this week, Utah Children’s Musical Theatre will bring the beloved tale to life on stage at the Prospector Square Lodge & Conference Center. The show is the first youth production for a new theatre program based in Park City, and it will kick off a variety of after-school programs and workshops.
Pam Arts is directing the production, which features a cast of 15 students ages 5 to 15. "I like to use Alice to introduce kids to theatre because there are so many interesting parts," she says.
The script closely resembles the Disney cartoon version of the story, but it includes several added scenes and characters drawn from the Lewis Carroll novel.
Arts held open auditions for the production last month. The cast has had five weeks to master their roles and they have proved their abilities. "I don’t do children’s theatre. I do theatre," Arts explains. "I have the same expectations for the kids as I do for the adults."
The leading roles in the play are: Chrissy Glasmann, 13, as Alice; Ian Aper, 14, as the Mad Hatter; Megan Glasmann, 15, as the Queen; Paloma Gohary, 11, as the White Rabbit; Katy Simi, 11, as the March Hare; Madi Hanks, 14, as the Caterpillar; and Morgan Carlson, 15, as the Cheshire Cat.
Arts has been so impressed with the students’ maturity levels and dedication that she assigned members of the cast to various roles on the production team. Fourteen-year-old Ellie Karr, for example, is the dance captain, and Carlson is the assistant director.
The small size of the cast has its advantages. Actors with smaller roles took on several parts so that everyone has equal responsibilities. The students also receive plenty of one-on-one attention. "It’s more intimate and everyone’s potential is realized," says Carlson.
The show will feature a full set, props and costumes that Arts has used in previous productions. "The costumes are amazing," says Aper. Students have helped spruce up pieces of the set that have been sitting in a warehouse and needed a little TLC.
The cast members will be involved behind the scenes as well, helping one another with costuming and makeup. "It’s a team effort. Pam says theatre is the ultimate team sport," Carlson says.
Arts shares many pieces of wisdom with her students culled from years of theatre experience. She often tells them, "There are no small parts, only small actors." She also encourages them to go for it. "She tells us, ‘Make [your role] your own and do with it what you want. It’s OK to make mistakes. If it’s wrong, make it huge,’" says Aper.
Arts’s enthusiasm for theatre is contagious. "She makes everything exciting," says Simi, who plays the March Hare.
Her confidence in the cast instills a sense of self-esteem, especially in those who don’t have much experience on stage. "She’s really optimistic. She trusts us," Carlson says.
The students are aware that, for the most part, locals are unfamiliar with the theatrical venue that the Prospector Square Lodge houses. The theatre has been around for 25 years, but it is rarely used for performances. Arts and the cast hope to change that. "This could potentially be a great rebirth for the theatre," says Megan Glasmann.
Many of the cast members agree that the best part about the play is its capricious nature and the ability to improvise in their roles. "It’s a lot of fun," says Ingrid Jorgensen, who plays the Dodo Bird and the Duchess. "You get to be silly and crazy."
Arts says she has enjoyed watching the students’ knowledge of theatre evolve over a short period of time. "I’m very pleased with the cast. They’re talented, they’re willing to learn they’re just great kids," she says. She adds that the production is a perfect way to start their careers as thespians. "I want this show to be their bottom line. They’ll go up from here."
The students will perform a total of nine shows. "It may seem like a lot, but show number six is usually when it gels," Arts explains. "I like the kids to have that experience of things really coming together."
"Alice in Wonderland" runs June 3-12 except for Sundays. Show times are 7 p.m. weeknights and 7:30 p.m. weekends. Tickets are $7 per person or $29 for a family pass and will be available at the door. Special early bird tickets are available for $5 at http://alicewonderland.eventbrite.com .
Arts will host an open house to introduce new theatre programs to the community on Friday, June 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Prospector Square Lodge & Conference Center. Parkites are invited to find out more about opportunities for both youth and adult performers. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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