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Local actors journey to 'Wonderland'
Sacramento Theatre Co. musical runs Thursday-Sunday
TIMES: 11 a.m. Thursday (SOLD OUT); 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday (limited seats left)
WHERE: Sacramento Theatre Co. Mainstage Theatre, 1419 H St., Sacramento
On stage Thursday through Sunday, "Wonderland! The Musical Misadventures of a Girl Named Alice" features several young actors from the Yuba-Sutter area. The upbeat coming-of-age story for audiences of all ages is part of the Sacramento Theatre Company's Ensemble Musical program and its School of the Arts, directed by Sarah Elsner-Berg, STC education production manager.
"'Wonderland' is based on 'Through the Looking Glass' — the second part of Lewis Carroll's book," "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," Elsner-Berg said. The play's book was adapted by James DeVita with music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur.
"Lots of singing, lots of dancing — it's definitely a musical," Elsner-Berg said. "The group has been rehearsing every day since the auditions in October to mount the production. It absolutely is a commitment."
Performances will be held at STC's 300-seat Mainstage Theatre at 1419 H St., Sacramento. "It's always wonderful to get as many people in the house as we can to support the kids. They've been working so hard, and the more audience we have, the more they are encouraged," Elsner-Berg said.
The director said the production has two casts with a total of about 60 actors who range in age from 5 to 12. "It's double-cast, but there is also a core group of kids who are in both casts. Like the Alices — there's two of them. But if you're a chess piece, you're in all the shows," she said.
Three of the actors hail from Yuba-Sutter: Aiden Hayes, who performs as a Lion, tourist and in the chorus; Grayson Hayes, who is a Red King; and Emily Trnka, who is one of the Alices.
"The story begins with Alice at home. Her mother is saying, 'Alice, let's go — let's get ready,' but Alice is playing chess with her kitty," Elsner-Berg said. Suddenly, Wonderland engulfs Alice, and the chess pieces are running all around her.
"The goal for Alice is to become queen. She has to go through the eight squares of the chess board. And making her way through each square, she meets different people," Elsner-Berg said.
Among others, Alice encounters Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum; and she meets Humpty Dumpty, who wants to be a country Western superstar along with his backup singers, the Dixie Chickens. "It's very cute," Elsner-Berg said.
"There's a Red Queen and a White Queen and a Red King and a White King, so the characters are really based on chess rather than in the classic 'Alice in Wonderland' that are based on cards," she added.
Alice eventually becomes queen — but in doing so, she finds that the position includes a lot of responsibility. "As queen, there are certain things that you have to do, and it becomes overwhelming for her. And she realizes that maybe she just wants to be a kid," Elsner-Berg said.
"Most of us know Alice in one way or another, whether it's the Disney version or Tim Burton's version or the book by Lewis Carroll. Her story reminds us all that it's OK not to grow up too fast," she said.
The STC's website says that the company has operated for more than 70 years. Its School of the Arts offers several programs to develop young actors: the Young Professionals Conservatory for 12- to 18-year-olds; the Pre-Professional Ensemble for first- through 10th-grade students; the Ensemble Musical Workshop; and annual summer camps.
"The education program is definitely functioning all year round," Elsner-Berg said.