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Alice in Wonderland delights audiences with solid performance

By Patty Unruh

“I’ve often seen a cat without a grin, but I’ve never seen a grin without a cat.” Musical caterpillars, talking flowers, gryphons, flamingos for croquet mallets… “Alice” had plenty to wonder about in a strange place populated by “assorted sorts of people.”

Alice in Wonderland was presented April 18-19 by the Gilpin County Players in the Gilpin school auditorium. The play, by Anne Coulter Martens, was based on the book by Lewis Carrol.

The cast of Gilpin students put in a strong performance in this effective version of the well-loved classic. The actors did a masterful job of conveying the fanciful humor and kept the action moving without a glitch. Carly Johnson, in the lead as Alice, portrayed her role with confidence. The costumes made each of the actors look as though they had stepped out of artist Sir John Tenniel’s Wonderland illustrations.

The set was designed to support the whimsical theme of the production, with large florescent flowers, clocks, toadstools, playing cards, and signs pointing “this way,” “wrong way,” and “hard way.” Before the play began, members of the audience noticed a light shining on the curtain in the shape of the Cheshire Cat’s famous grin. Music set the mood with strings and winds in a Disneyesque overture.

The nonsensical story of Alice has delighted children and adults for generations. In the version presented by the Gilpin cast, Alice had been playing cards with her sister when a White Rabbit ran past. She quickly followed him, falling down a rabbit hole and finding herself in Wonderland, a topsy-turvy place peopled by puzzling creatures and events. Alice found a key and tried several times to use it, hoping to unlock a door that would help her find her way home, but instead the key led her to various bizarre adventures. She met and made friends with the Cheshire Cat, who kept appearing and disappearing but was always there when Alice needed help.

It was Alice’s birthday, and she was distressed when she had difficulty getting home, because her mother was giving a party for her at five o’clock and all of her friends were coming. However, Alice discovered that time didn’t matter to the creatures of Wonderland.

Alice met many other intriguing characters, including a musical Caterpillar, a sneezing Duchess, quarreling brothers named Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and the capricious and nasty Queen of Hearts. Her adventure in Wonderland ended with her trial for stealing the Queen’s tarts, peppered generously with cries of “Off with his (or her) head!”

Each of the characters had words of advice or criticism for Alice. She got frustrated trying to explain herself to the Caterpillar, who languidly remarked, “Keep your temper.” The Duchess, in between sneezes, imparted her philosophy that “the more there is of mine, the less there is of yours.” Humpty Dumpty preferred “unbirthday” presents because there were 364 days a year on which to receive them and only one on which to receive birthday presents. Her friend the Cheshire Cat advised, “keep smiling, and never give up.”

Alice attended “the stupidest tea party I ever was at” with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse, who spent all their time asking nonsensical riddles. When Alice asked if they would take her to meet the Queen, the Hatter replied, “We’re not that mad.”

When Alice finally met the Queen, she found out why the Queen was not that popular. “I don’t like your face,” the Queen informed her. During Alice’s trial, which was just as ridiculous as the rest of the adventure, she was told, “You’ll have a fair trial—and then we’ll find you guilty.” Finally, she stood up to the Queen.

“You’re nothing but a pack of cards! The wind could blow you away!” she declared. And it did. The whole congregation of creatures was indeed swept away by a windstorm.

The Cheshire Cat’s parting wisdom was that the real key was not the kind that unlocked doors, but rather, the key was “understanding.”

“As you grow older,” the Cat told Alice, “you will understand.” Alice thanked the Cat for being her friend, realized that she was more grown up than she used to be, and bid a fond farewell to Wonderland.

The cast took a curtain call at the play’s conclusion, bowing to an enthusiastic audience.  Peggy Miller, director of the play, was pleased with the cast’s efforts. “I think it went fabulous. I’m excited for them, especially because it was a crazy week, with the snow and school being cancelled. They came through, and I’m very, very proud of them.”

The Gilpin County Montessori School hosted a delicious dinner for the play’s opening night. The dinner included spaghetti with choice of meat or vegetarian marinara sauce, salad, bread, desserts, and beverages. The dinner was open to the community, and all proceeds supported school activities.

The cast: Carly Johnson (Alice), Stephanie Siegrist (Queen of Hearts), Brandon Santos (King of Hearts), Aspen Nadeau (Cheshire Cat), Dylan Krug (Mad Hatter), Delainey Lepro (March Hare), Cicely Lepro (Dormouse), Dan Garrett (Caterpillar & Knave), Trystin Swan (Executioner), Alyssa Martinez (Cook), Annabel Diekman (Gryphon & Flower), Carissa Wiggin (Mock Turtle & Flower), Jada Ghodes, Cheyenne Jackson, Katy Marr (Flowers), Jon Sales (Humpty Dumpty), Nina Halsted (Tweedledum), Zoe Casarez (Tweedledee), Grace Lloyd (White Rabbit), Claire Diekman, Alyssa Webb, Issac Chavez, Christine Morrison, Sarah Trujillo, Madison Kennedy, Logan Prewitt (Soldiers and Courtiers), Cheyanne Fejarang, Esmee Halsted (Heart Children), Sierra Bedwell (Duchess), and Brianna Kennedy (Frog-Footman).

Behind the scenes: Peggy Miller (Producer & Director), Hannah Raynes (Assistant Director), Barb Bedwell (Technical & Stage Director), Sarah Baisley, Adria Banks, Morton Barsky, Seth Brandstetter, Grace Diekman, Trevor Dziedzic, Morgan Foelsch, Esmee Halsted, Martin Jenkins, Tyler Krug, Tatum Lepro, Lauryn Parkhurst, Ty Schmalz, Mike Yerkman (Stage Crew).

Special thanks were extended to Curt Halsted, Sten Bedwell, Becca Blondo, the Gilpin County Booster Club, the Gilpin County Montessori, the parents for sharing their talented kids, and the coaches for sharing the athletes.

Costumes were provided by Ivywild Costumes of Colorado Springs.

Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He was an Anglican curate and lecturer in mathematics at Oxford University. To children, he was a friend and a spinner of fantastic tales. One of his young friends was Alice Pleasance Liddell. One summer day in 1862, while she and her sisters were boating with Mr. Dodgson, he began to tell them the marvelous dream adventures of an imaginary Alice. The real Alice was so pleased by these tales that Dodgson wrote them in a book and gave it to her for Christmas. He later added more stories, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published under his pen name, with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.

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