Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat

Madison Miller is in costume here as the Cheshire Cat in “Alice In Wonderland,” the show to be staged at Marianna High School in three presentations April 19 and 20. 

Marianna High School’s production of “Alice In Wonderland” will be held in the MHS theater on Friday, April 19, with a 6:30p.m. performance, and will also be on stage Saturday, April 20, with performances that day at noon and 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children.

The cast of 21 MHS students auditioned for their roles working with excerpts from the often-quoted play.

When Junior Faith Hardin read for the lead role of Alice, she was paired with Madison Miller, who wanted to be the Cheshire Cat. Both earned their respective roles.

The cast has been in rehearsal off-and-on since before Christmas break, 2018.

Hardin has been in three previous MHS productions—Harvey, Aladdin, and The Adventures of Rose Red. In this show, she and her fellow players have had much more to think about than their time on the stage. They have had many additional, behind-the-scenes, roles to fulfill as well in preparation for the play.

For instance, Hardin helped tailor ordered costumes to fit the actors playing the roles, and she made some of those that weren’t ordered, including the ones for Tweedledee and Tweddledum, and some of those for the flower characters.  Her mom taught her how to sew.

She said family members of the cast have also played important roles in making the show a reality. Parents made or helped their teenagers make some of the costumes, ran lines, and helped work on the set.

Hardin said her older sister, Gerri, has also been very supportive.

Their bonding over theatrical matters several years ago when Gerri was active on the pageant circuit. In high school at the time, she let her little middle-school sister help her with make-up, rehearsal and other activities in preparation for those competitions.

Faith got to be part of the backstage excitement as well. Gerri also designed outfits for her little sister when they were very young and let Faith work out some ensemble designs for her during those pageant days. Hardin says her sister has been a very important influence guiding her toward a continued interest in the theatre.

And when Alice In Wonderland came along, Gerri let Faith raid the big collection of make-up she’d assembled in her pageant days.  Many characters in Alice benefited from that donation. Gerri also helped her sister shop for non-ordered costume pieces and props.

Hardin’s dad, Jerry, and her brother, Blake White, helped build set pieces.

Her friends and family help her run lines.

“I have really amazing friends,” Hardin said. “They give feedback when they run lines with me, and they’ll use different voices to cue me when they change characters. If they think I should emphasize a word or go bigger, they tell me.  The input helps me remember the lines, too.”

Theatre Director is Brandi Kolmetz. She and her team of actors made some decisions about the show together, including the choice to only close the curtain once and to work in the movement of set pieces as part of the play. The show runs about an hour and 45 minutes, but they’re trying to trim that down by speeding their in-between-the-scenes tasks. Dress rehearsals started early this week.

MHS doesn’t have a theatre class anymore-that was dropped some time back, but students interested in the art formed a club when the class was dissolved. About 35 students are part of it.

“Every single cast member has put in a lot of hard work on this show and we’re excited about it,” Hardin said. “We’d been wanting to do this play for a long time and everybody really worked together to make it a good one. Our families and our friends have been so supportive, too, that we really were able to make something to be proud of as a big team. “

She said art students were important contributors in the effort.

“The artists in Mrs. (Jerri) Benton’s art class are so talented and were so great,” she said. “They would draw and outline the backgrounds of the set, others of us would come in and paint the basics, and then they’d come back and add all the fine details. They’re amazing. The ag department students helped us build some of the bigger props—the queen’s castle and the standing trees are their work. We have a lot of talented people involved in this and we hope everyone comes out to enjoy it.”

The upcoming production was adapted by Michele L. Vacca and is produced by special arrangement with Classics of Stage of Chicago.

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