Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 19
Children wantedSanta Maria Civic Theatre's Alice in Wonderland invites children to participate in the whimsy
BY SHELLY CONE
Live theater can be an exciting experience. The costumes, characters, and sets can take the audience to another world, a journey that can be especially exciting for children.
Think live theater isn’t for someone so young? There’s a cast of characters at the Santa Maria Civic Theatre that disagrees.
In fact, every summer, the cast strives to make live theater not only more accessible to children, but even more exciting by bringing kids from the audience into the play.
This year, the theater is bringing to life Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of a girl’s sojourn through a magical world with a Fairy Tale Theatre performance of Alice in Wonderland. Alice’s adventures through a wacky and delightfully nonsensical land, a topsy-turvy story narrated by her sister Sarah, are made even more exciting by such iconic characters as the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and the Dodo Bird.
As Alice makes her way through Wonderland, she must use
But, perhaps, the best part is that children don’t have to sit still to watch this show. They’ll be invited to interact with the characters as the adventure unfolds.
The theater has staged free fairy tales every summer since 1993. Some scheduling conflicts almost kept it from happening this year, said Santa Maria Civic Theatre board president Clare Terrill. But ultimately, the cast decided the show must go on—although by then there was little time for preparation. Left with a shortened practice period, the cast had to double up on rehearsals, something they were all willing to do in order to keep the summer fairy tales going.
“This was something we didn’t want to lose. This is our outreach to the community. Everybody really just stepped up to do this,” Terrill said.
She explained that turnout is normally good, but that previous productions were held in mid-July around the same time as the Santa Barbara County Fair. With a change in dates this year, she expects an even better turnout.
Six performers will be involved in the production: Angela Hutt-Chamberlain will play Sarah; Taylor Glines will play Alice; Alan Foster is the White Rabbit; Nancy Kunishige is the Caterpillar; Rene Lopez will play the DoDo Bird; and Terrill will play the Queen.
Sarah, who is Alice’s older sister in the production, will act as narrator and will also be the one bringing children into the production from the audience. She’ll take the children through the forest and into a game of croquet with Alice and the Queen. The kids will be the wickets for the croquet game while balloons are used as the balls, “because the Giant Turtles stole the balls and are trying to hatch them,” Terrill said, quoting a line from the play. Children will also make up members of the jury.
Santa Maria Civic Theatre Vice President Richard Dresp, a veteran actor who directed last summer’s fairy tales production, The Frog Prince of Spamalot, will also direct Alice in Wonderland. He said that for many of the children who have attended summer fairy tales over the last several decades, it was their first exposure to live theater. He said he hopes that excitement for theater will stay with them and that the Civic Theatre can keep sharing that same joy with the community for many years to come.
Arts Editor Shelly Cone feels like she’s in Wonderland until the coffee kicks in. She can be contacted at the coffee machine or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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