This year, Northlands Parkway Collegiate students are putting on Alice in Wonderland at the P.W. Enns Concert Hall on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2.
“We wanted to do an Alice in Wonderland that wasn’t cartoon based,” director Karen Giesbrecht said. “We wanted something based more in the literary background. We have some vintage costume pieces and good, lush harmonies and cool music in there.”
Two years ago the school put on Les Miserables, and this spring the students came to Giesbrecht and requested something more “whimsical” and light.
“We latched onto Alice because of the characters,” Giesbrecht said. “It’s not as huge a commitment as Les Mis was, but there’s still a good level to get the quality of product that we want to.”
“The one that really pulled people in with this [version] was Mad Hatter,” Giesbrecht added. “This [version] is so based on the real book. This is true to that. It’s all there, straight out of the pages.”
The play features five different Alices, who represent the confusion of Alice in her dreamlike state and the changes she undergoes. “The significance is that there’s different moods,” Michelle Baier, who plays Alice #3, said. “Each one of us is a bit of a different mood. For example, Alice #1 is the actual Alice. In [the play], I’m mostly sad, and there’s difference Alices.”
To Giesbrecht, the most challenging part of putting the play together was creating a believable, interesting looking Wonderland. “We have pool noodles with these big flowers,” she said. “We got our RTVA welding people to do some bases to put those in. We got the big tree from Candlewick. The set itself isn’t a lot of stuff, but there’s a lot of bright. It’s very visual.”
Another challenge for the students has been learning the songs and dances as well as their regular lines.
Many of the costume pieces came from a vintage place in Winnipeg.
23 students act in the play and even more worked behind the scenes to create the sets, which include a cottage that was built in the art room. The play features students from grades 9-12.
Auditions took place in June. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, it was my favourite book as a kid,” Madison Fehr, who plays Alice #2, said.
“There something very magical about Alice in Wonderland,” Madeline Harder, who plays Alice #1, said. “It’s cool to actually be Alice, and go through that journey with her.”
“It’s nice to get away from the reality of high school,” Jenny Neufeld, who plays the Caterpillar, added. “It’s Alice in Wonderland, where anything can happen.”
“They’ve had fun,” Giesbrecht said. “To come out and watch this play you’re watching the production of a lot of hard work and the imagination of a lot of brains going together to make this thing work. Coming out to see this fantastic land that exists in these five Alice’s imaginations is a visual spectacle of colour and sound.”
The play runs for an hour and 15 minutes. Tickets are available on the P.W. Enns Concert Hall website (winklerconcerthall.ca) under Purchase Tickets.