Wildly fanciful characters from “Alice in Wonderland” come to life this weekend on stage at Saint Viator High School. From Humpty Dumpty and the Mad Hatter to the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, they all weave in and out of the spotlight teaching Alice about life and growing up in the dangerous world of Victorian England.
“I grew up with this story, but now, experiencing it as a teenager I’m seeing its relevancy even to today,” says senior Emily Bremner, who shares the title role with sophomore Michelle Cecchin. “It’s a story about self-discovery and what makes me who I am. It’s just told in this wacky manner.”
Junior James McManus shares the role of Humpty Dumpty with junior Robby Baxendale. They wear one of the more elaborate costumes on stage created by professional special effects and costume designer, Kathy Johnson, and had to research their unique voice.
“I’m trying to imitate the voice of W. C. Fields, who played Humpty Dumpty in the 1933 film,” McManus says. “It’s a New York accent that’s getting better over time. I’m still trying to add more sass.”
Senior Laura Kuper has played many of the romantic leads in the musicals during her time at Saint Viator, but in this production, she shares the role of the Duchess with junior Bridget Dillon.
“I think children will love all the colorful and eccentric characters,” Kuper says, “and adults will love figuring out all of the underlying messages.”
Nearly 70 students are involved in the production through its two separate casts, with another dozen working behind the scenes on its technical aspects, with three students sharing the load on the light board.
“The show relies heavily on the lights,” says senior Anne Haubenreiser. “Without much of a set, we have to make the effects all on our own.”
Right from the start, the light crew projects swirling effects on the backdrop to evoke Alice falling down the rabbit hole, and later characters appear and disappear into Alice’s consciousness.
Directed by Kate Costello and her assistants, Tony Calzaretta and Mary Schafer, made a conscious decision to concentrate their efforts on creating larger than life characters through vivid costumes, lighting, and authentic accents and minimize the set design.
“The show is too episodic to have a complicated set,” says Costello, who adapted the play herself from the original production. “I wanted it to move quickly and let the projections and costumes provide the colorful effects.”
Math teacher, Mrs. Julie Reedy, created the overall costume design of the show, with help from Johnson and longtime costumer, Mary Woods.
“The costumes are extremely important to the show,” Calzaretta says. “We literally wanted them to pop on stage and jump out into the audience.”