By Buffy Calvert

ACS DRAMA has done it again! Tiny woodland creatures danced onto the stage March 9th and 10th. They pulled open the giant book entitled Alice in Wonderland to reveal a playground before which children began to play. Among them, a girl in a blue dress and white pinafore, her long light hair drawn back by a ribbon, began to yawn and sink to the ground to take a nap.

The page is turned and Alice, played by the winsome Montana Damone, wakes in a very curious place led by a large White Rabbit (Jade Litaker) in a red waistcoat who keeps shouting  “I’m late!” Ms Litaker pops up throughout the play and although her lovely singing voice is hardly in evidence, her comic acting lights up the stage.

When Alice tries to get small enough to re-enter the rabbit hole, she disappears, then suddenly reappears as the elfin, expressive Winifred Richards-Consigny in identical costume. She finds herself transformed in turn (trying to get tall enough to reach the key) into a statuesque Alice in the person of Tristan Tait. Very cleverly done and a wonder every time.


Cast members regale the audience during the ACS production of Alice in Wonderland

The Cheshire Cat was also tripled, leading to sparkling repartee among Amber and Ashley Terry and Jordan Day. The Queen of Hearts (Adriel Grapes) struck terror into her guard (Taylor Day, Kathryn Hall, Jedah Grapes and Thomas Melvin in smart playing card sandwich boards),  Alice and others, shouting “Off with their heads!”  She was remonstrated by her compassionate consort, Jennifer Andrews, as King of Hearts, who was double-cast as the Door Knob.

At the Tea Party, Jonathan Andrews was an outstanding Mad Hatter with Josephine DeSanto as his straight man, the March Hare. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (Peter DiPierro and Noah Dougherty) became hopelessly entangled and stumped all three Alices thoroughly. Zachery Valkavich played the DoDo bird with a prehistoric head.

A quintet, whom I don’t remember from the book, shimmered and shimmied onto the stage calling themselves “The Girls of the Golden Afternoon,” a tight little clique who excluded Alice (in every size) with a perfect rendition of the perfect putdown, “Yeeeew!”  Alexis Redden was the show stopper, playing the venerable Caterpillar in a hugely overstuffed costume which didn’t inhibit her hip-wriggling, finger-snapping rhythmic dancing. The audience loved it.

Everything went smoothly thanks to the direction of Edward Sanford and Eloise Harris. Ms Harris also choreographed with assistance from Lisa Valkavich. The cast, even on the first night, didn’t seem to need help from prompter John Bernhardt, a compliment to them both.

Special kudos go to James Litaker and Pete Valkavich whose sets were magical, beautifully designed, constructed and painted. Wonderful, amusing costumes by Kathy Whitaker, lighting by Sharon McDowall and Rebecca Kole and the unobtrusive work of the stage crew kept the spotlight on the actors.

I was especially happy to see our very youngest students on stage. Benjamin Andersen, Christina Chakar, Charles Bourke, Emily Andersen, Lindsay Hall, Dusty Richards-Consigny, Katherine Edelson and Rylee Burton appeared as Woodland Creatures and lobsters, coordinated by Maureen O’Reilly, Jennifer Andersen and Juliette Consigny. We look forward to seeing them for years to come.  ~