‘Alice’ a success with Children’s Theater

Rangely Junior High School seventh-grader Raelynn Norman as Alice, and the White Rabbit, portrayed by Missoula Children’s Theater actor/director Ethan Park, consider the nonsense of others not knowing who you are and not always being sure yourself.

Rangely Junior High School seventh-grader Raelynn Norman as Alice, and the White Rabbit, portrayed by Missoula Children’s Theater actor/director Ethan Park, consider the nonsense of others not knowing who you are and not always being sure yourself.
Rangely Junior High School seventh-grader Raelynn Norman as Alice, and the White Rabbit, portrayed by Missoula Children’s Theater actor/director Ethan Park, consider the nonsense of others not knowing who you are and not always being sure yourself.
RANGELY I Fifty-four Rangely elementary, middle and high school students performed Missoula Children’s Theater’s “Alice in Wonderland” on Friday night, bringing approximately 300 people to the Rangely Junior-Senior High School auditorium.
The Montana-based traveling theater company, which has visited Rangely annually since resident Annette Webber brought the company back to town several years ago, drew 68 children to auditions last week with 54 children completing a rigorous schedule, including line and song memorization, blocking, a full dress rehearsal and a community-wide performance in just five days.
This year, the usual schedule was cut even shorter due to Halloween, which meant children only practiced half as long as usual on Thursday.
“Scheduling can be difficult because we always have to work around conflicts with hunting and sports,” coordinator Ann Urie said. “This year, it went really well even though it was during Halloween. The auditorium was still almost to full capacity.”
The play drew from elements of Lewis Carroll’s traditional “Alice in Wonderland” story, from the trademark White Rabbit and domineering Queen of Hearts to a raucous Mad Hatter. But, like most Missoula productions, this “Alice” took on a life all its own.
The grinning Cheshire Cat showed up where the audience least expected him, partly because he was played by three children: sixth-grader Cia Buxton, fifth-grader Catrina Reeves and fourth-grader Ryann Claybaugh.
Songs written for the production, including one played by a rapping wildflower troupe, explored the nature of nonsense and discovering one’s identity in the midst of it. And Alice herself, played by sixth-grader Audrye Patch, seventh-grader Raelynn Norman and freshman McKenzie Webber, struggled to identify who she had become in the topsy-turvy, nonsensical world.
But nonsense, as the White Rabbit and Norman sang in a duet, is part of what makes Wonderland so wonderful. And while some audience members said some lines were difficult to hear, prompting Urie and Webber to want to seek future funding for a RJSHS microphone system, the audience seemed to think the premise worked.
“I thought the idea behind ‘Alice’ was cute,” said Wendi Gillard, whose freshman daughter, Rebecca, played the Queen of Hearts. “I thought the Cheshire Cat was really creative. And it was neat how they did the big, small and medium Alices. I think it gave more kids more opportunities.”
Bringing in Missoula Children’s Theater each year costs approximately $3,100, Urie said, with admission fees covering about half of the expense and the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District donating some of the remaining cost.
The Human Resource Council purchased the water and snacks sold at the event.