Alice, the Red Queen, Mad Hatter to walk into La Salle Prep
Theater-goers can tumble into the fantastical world of "Alice in Wonderland" at La Salle Prep'sÂ fallÂ production scheduled for November.Â Â
Drama teacher and director Michael SheldonÂ saidÂ much of his and his students' time has been spent on the costumes, especially the headpieces,Â which play an integral part of the imaginary world created by Lewis Carroll. The characters will be in Victorian garb,Â referencingÂ the timeÂ in whichÂ Carroll wrote the famous novel.
The play was adaptedÂ by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus.Â
Sheldon selected "Alice" as La Salle's first play since the pandemic brokeÂ out play so families could attend together.Â Â
"I like the opportunity the story presentsÂ withÂ a larger cast and the magical elements of Wonderland toÂ visually createÂ whatÂ we hope is impactful for audiences. Plus, I like that it's a show that works for families," Sheldon said. "People have been isolated for so long and this is an opportunity to go out into the community,Â but with their children,Â toÂ start reconnecting again.
"It was aÂ factorÂ when deciding on what show,Â and we felt we could meet the community's needs, too. It just so happens through serendipity thatÂ I had aÂ previous connection to pianist Michael Allen Harrison,Â whoÂ has agreed to compose all-original music forÂ the production."Â
Harrison has created numerous originalÂ works onÂ MP3s to be used during the times when he cannot be presentÂ toÂ perform. He has worked withÂ the actorsÂ vocally,Â and SheldonÂ calledÂ it a gift from Harrison, especiallyÂ since it'sÂ the first productionÂ from La Salle's theater departmentÂ in more than 18 months.Â
With a cast of 24Â and crew of 26, it's a large production,Â whichÂ affords opportunities forÂ moreÂ studentsÂ to participate. Sheldon saidÂ the actors are enjoying the multiple themes in "Alice."Â
"For them, they are resonating with the idea of transformation," SheldonÂ said. "While it's not been my intention, a lot of them have talked about how Alice has a view of herself and the world she lives in. Alice is soÂ naïve,Â and she comes outÂ of WonderlandÂ withÂ almostÂ a maturity andÂ someÂ wisdom.Â Â
"The kidsÂ are noticing the parallels withÂ COVIDÂ —Â there was life before and there is life now,Â and it's never going to be the way it was before, and we are trying to find a new way of being," he said. "That transformational aspect for Alice and her personal journey is reverberating with students."Â Â
Sheldon, who is in his sixth year at La Salle, saidÂ that after a long hiatus, students are excited to be able to perform together and collaborate on a big production again.Â Â
"The energy is higher now, not because kids somehow like it more than they did before, but there is a sense thatÂ somethingÂ had been taken away from them. It feels different to them; they appreciate it more. WeÂ are not fully throughÂ COVIDÂ yet,Â and it could be taken awayÂ still," Sheldon said. "There's a level of joy they are bringing to the work thatÂ wasÂ not always apparent prior toÂ COVID."Â
Up next for La Salle's drama department is "All Together Now," an international collaborative event with 2,400 other high schools. ItÂ willÂ beÂ performedÂ Nov. 17. The winter show in February is "Gifted,"Â a student-directed production,Â followed by the spring musical,Â "Mama Mia."Â Â
"It's a whole season of being joyful and bringing people back together and celebrating community," Sheldon said.Â Â
What: "Alice in Wonderland"Â
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 5-7 and 12-13; 2 p.m. Nov. 14Â
Where: 11999 S.E. FullerÂ Road, unincorporated Clackamas County near MilwaukieÂ
Cost: Adults $12; students $10Â
Tickets: lspreptheater.orgÂ Â
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