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Alice is fresh and funny

Driftwood Theatre School

Watch for sightings of the white rabbit with the pocket watch next week. It will run onto the stage at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons to begin the beloved story of Alice’s journey in a production by the Driftwood Theatre School students.

Lewis Carroll originally wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, but it has received many dramatic treatments since then and seems as fresh and funny as ever.

This version of Alice in Wonderland by English playwright Doris Russel is a singing, rhyming style of production with elements of classic British pantomime that involve role reversal: the duchess is played by a boy (Quinton Ruth), while the sinister knave of hearts is a girl (Skylar Moore).

As in all good pantos, the audience is asked to join in. Alice (played by Elisabeth Lyle) asks: “Should I drink from the bottle that will make me smaller or larger?” Audience: No! or Yes! Spoiler alert: She drinks.  

The Mad Hatter’s tea party is a delightful scene in which the hatter (James Stinson), the March hare (Hanna Short) and a sleepy dormouse (Gabriel Ryan) vex poor Alice with their rendition of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Bat.

She leaves to meet Humpty Dumpty on his wall, but that wall is slippery — the egg could have a bad fall. One of the more comical scenes is the sight of Alice and the court of the Queen of Hearts playing croquet with a flamingo for a mallet and a hedgehog for a ball. The white rabbit reappears periodically to mix things up and is performed by two students, Gravity Guinard and Jasmine Fitzsimons.

Ingrid Bilton is teacher and director of the play, Sandi McGinnis is stage manager, and Doug Ives worked to build the sets with help from Bodhi and Mudito Drope. All are thankful for the Driftwood Costume Shoppe to help dress such a large cast in the fanciful costumes of Wonderland.

It’s the fifth year for the theatre school, said Driftwood’s JoAnne Bennison, and it was time for a full-scale production with music, scenery and costumes. Although it’s a lot of work that requires a few adults from the Driftwood family and volunteers from the community, a big production can teach the junior thespians many things.

“They studied three plays,” Ben-nison said, “and debated the merits of each, then they voted. They also learned how to prepare for an audition and had to try out for the parts.”

The junior drama performance troupe members are aged 12 to 16 and some of them have been involved for all five years. Because this play required more actors, they called on juniors from the introductory class and from the family fun class. In the performance, there are now 25 students between the ages of seven and 16.

The play runs May 8 at 7 p.m., May 9 at 1 and 7 p.m. and May 10 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 youth available at The Blackberry Shop, Laedeli, Giggle ‘n’ Bloom and the Sechelt Visitor Centre. More about Driftwood Theatre School can be found at www.driftwood

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