MARQUETTE - The Marquette Arts and Culture Youth Theater will perform their own twist on the classic "Alice in Wonderland" at the end of the month, when they stage a musical production.
Running Jan. 28-29, the show will give a total of 75 kids a chance to participate in the performance. The actors range from age 4 to 17. Director Nikke Nason said that the audience is in for a "visual treat."
"We're trying to create our own wonderland that no one's ever seen before," Nason said.
Some of the Marquette Community Arts and Culture Youth Theater’s Alice in Wonderland cast practices the “Mad Tea Party” scene using method acting techniques on Sunday. From left, Kayla Grugin, 7, playing Dormouse, recites some of her lines on the table while Jill Vermeulen, 15, playing March Hare, and Mallory Grugin, 12, playing Alice also practice the scene. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)
Inspirations range from the circus arts of Cirque du Soleil to the styles of pop star Lady Gaga. The artists M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali also influenced their approach.
"One thing that's great about 'Alice in Wonderland' is that anything goes, but the worst thing about 'Alice in Wonderland' is anything goes," Nason said, "The possibilities are endless."
The Youth Theater will be performing from a classic version of the Alice story, a script originally done on broadway that was designed for only 10 parts. The Youth Theater is not cross-casting roles, however, which enables 75 kids to be involved.
"What's nice about this show, is that there's really no lead role, everyone is important, it gives everyone their moment to shine," Nason said.
The cast includes many actors new to the stage, as well as seasoned actors taking on more challenging roles, many of them practicing seven days a week.
Although they were technically still on holiday break, the characters from the "Mad Tea Party" scene wanted a little extra practice Sunday with their tea party etiquette. Using method acting techniques, they sipped tea and ate crumpets, tea sandwiches and cookies to get a feel of how their characters would act at an actual tea party.
"It's helpful to see the behaviors of a tea party," said Nason, who researched how to conduct a proper English high tea.
Kayla Grugin, 7, playing Dormouse, Jessica Sattler, 16, playing Mad Hatter, Jill Vermeulen, 15, playing March Hare, and Mallory Grugin, 12, playing Alice, sang, recited their lines and even stood on a dining room table to practice the scene.
"Before we did this, we weren't sure what we are doing, but now we have a method," Vermeulen said.
Kayla Grugin, in her first big role, gets to showcase some of her skills in the scene-riding around on a scooter and doing the splits.
"We try to take advantage of kids' skills like gymnastics, acrobatics, dance and aerial skills," Nason said.
In this Alice interpretation you'll find a hip-hop dancing rabbit, butterflies performing ballet and cancan dancing flowers.
The special effects in the play will be especially visually interesting. Instead of using "smoke and mirrors" they are opting to use the actors to create the effects, using creativity of the youths.
"This version is really different from all the other Alice books and movies that you've seen," Mallory Grugin said.
"I think it will be enjoyable for all ages," added Nason.
Along with Nason, some of the other behind-the-scenes people are Courtney Brown, assistant director and stage manager; Jill Grundstrom, choreographer; Mary Ann Rotter, music and vocal director; Jill Vermuelen, dance captain; Mariah Rosado and Ryan White, designing hair and makeup; Matt Oto, designing the set; and Mia Cinelli, costume designer.
The performance will be at the Kaufman Auditorium at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 and 1 and 7 p.m. Jan. 29.
Tickets cost $8 for children and students, $11 for seniors and $13 for adults and are available at the city of Marquette Arts and Culture Center in the lower level of Peter White Public Library. To order tickets by phone, call 228-0472.
Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.