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February 12, 2014

‘Alice In Wonderland’ is full of wonder

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

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Warren Woods Middle School student Emily Harrison rehearses Feb. 6 as Alice in the Myrtlewood Children’s Theater’s “Disney’s Alice In Wonderland Jr.” Harrison and fellow sixth-grader Jazmin Thomas alternate in the role.

WARREN — Alice ventures through quite the journey upon falling into the rabbit hole.

Her adventures include meeting an array of interesting characters, and several Warren Woods Public Schools students in grades third through eighth will tell her story when they perform in the Myrtlewood Children’s Theater’s “Disney’s Alice In Wonderland Jr.” this month.

The students have rehearsed for weeks to bring Lewis Carroll’s classic tale to the auditorium stage at Warren Woods Middle School, 13400 12 Mile Road at 8 p.m. Feb. 21; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Feb. 22; and 2 p.m. Feb. 23. The family-oriented show runs about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The musical promises to entertain as the young cast members sing, act and dance their way into the hearts of the audience as Alice meets the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. The students are primarily from WWMS and Pinewood, Westwood and Briarwood elementary schools in WWPS.

“The kids are really into it. They really respond to it,” Director and dance coach Bekah Wisbiski said.

Patti Raney also is a show director and vocal coach, and Christina Michalski is the rehearsal assistant.

WWMS sixth-graders Jazmin Thomas and Emily Harrison were cast to play Alice on alternate dates. Both eagerly anticipate opening night.

“It’s a lot of hard work. It’s really fun. After a while, it starts coming together,” Harrison said of her first-ever theater experience. “I get to hang out with my friends. I made more friends, even with the younger kids. I hope (the audience) thinks it’s funny and cool. I hope they like it.”

To prepare for the lead role, Thomas said she watched the movie version “like a million times to see what Alice was really like.”

“Alice has a really big personality,” Thomas said. “She’s perky and stuff. I had to study really hard all the lines and stuff. I somewhat like to be in the spotlight.”

WWMS seventh-grader Jenna Davis and eighth-grader Allyson LaBrake were cast as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, respectively, while WWMS seventh-grader Taylor Michael took on the role of the Caterpillar.

“We are supposed to be dumb sisters,” Davis said of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. “I think it’s pretty comical and very confusing, but funny at the same time. The dialogue is very funny ... the sarcasm, the seriousness, the sassiness.”

“It’s really silly. Nothing really makes sense,” Michael said of the show. “I’m supposed to be the only one that’s really nice to Alice.”

Having a great time as the Mad Hatter is Dylan Dyjewski, from Wyandot Middle School in Chippewa Valley Schools. In his plaid pants, shiny suit and red wig, the Mad Hatter stands out.

“He doesn’t care about anything else,” Dyjewski said. “This is his lifestyle.”

Being on stage comes natural for Dyjewski.

“It’s cool. Your transform into something else,” he said.

Pinewood fifth-grader Dominic Gerace portrays the White Rabbit with a trumpet and all.

“He will be funny to the audience. He is always late to everything,” Gerace said. “All the Wonderland characters are making him late. He has a tea party every day for his un-birthday. He has nothing else to do, so he celebrates his birthday every day.”

Gerace’s dad, Nick, inspired him “a little” to try out for the role.

“He does these funny skits at church,” Gerace said. “I want to be like him when I grow up.”

Myrtlewood Arts Association (MAA) is a nonprofit group that formed in 2006 to support arts education in southeast Michigan. The organization has funded a variety of projects.

Last year, MAA began its Children’s Theater Project with a production of “Mulan Jr.” at WWMS. The success of “Mulan Jr.” brought Myrtlewood back for a second year to create “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.”

“Disney’s Alice In Wonderland Jr.” show tickets are $6 each. Tickets will be available to the general public the week before the show from 5-7:30 p.m. in the WWMS auditorium lobby. They will also be available in the lobby before each performance.

In addition, tickets may be requested through Myrtlewood Arts Association by leaving a message at (586) 755-5995.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.