The Sanibel School to present ‘Alice in Wonderland Jr.’ musical
Decades ago, literary author Lewis Caroll wrote about an imaginary world in
which a little girl named Alice finds herself in a dream. In this world of
opposites and contradictions, rabbits talk and are perpetually late for tea,
and eating mushrooms can change one’s size to teeny tiny or giant.
“The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” has been enthralling people of all
ages for years. A modern continuation of Alice’s adventures has been adapted
into one of this year’s movie features called “Alice in Wonderland” starring
But for islanders looking to indulge in a live musical version of the fairy
tale one need look no further than The Sanibel School where students from
Performing Art Class will be presenting Walt Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,
Jr.” on Thursday and Friday, May 27 and 28, and Thursday and Friday, June 3
and 4. Curtain is at 7 p.m. and tickets are $7 for adults and $2 for
children five to 18.
The production is being produced and directed by Joe Angelo, The Sanibel
School music director.
The cast — comprised of sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students — have been
rehearsing the musical since January, Angelo said. “We’re pretty sure we
will bring down the house,” Angelo said.
The students put on two musical productions each year, in December and May.
In years past they have performed the likes of “Into the Woods,” “Aladdin,”
“Mulan,” and “Willy Wonka,” “High School Musical” and “Grease,” as well as
such all-time favorites as “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Sound of Music,”
“Guys and Dolls,” “Annie,” “The Music Man,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
The performing arts course offers students a chance to participate in live
musical theater productions. Whether a student wishes to be a star on the
stage or work behind the scenes, performing arts offers an array of
experiences ranging from singing, acting and dancing to managing costumes,
props, and crew, Angelo said. Students develop performance techniques in
musical and dramatic settings while learning the basics of drama, he said.
“We earn funds for our musicals primarily through donations, fundraisers and
ticket sales,” he said. “Any donations to help support our musical
productions are greatly appreciated.”
Angelo, who’s elated with this year’s performing art class, said the
community will be in for a real treat as far as the acting, sets and dance
numbers go. He and parent Arlene Dillon work closely with the cast to get
every detail, including the dance moves, in sync.
On a recent morning, the student cast hustled about the stage prepping for
the upcoming show. Tricia Garmager, 13, went over dance steps with fellow
cast members. A resumé, that includes performing in the school’s version of
“Beauty and the Beast” as well as years of dance experience, have earned her
the position of choreographer for “Alice…”
The fresh-faced Garmager sighed as she went through the dance numbers which
she calls “slowed down hip-hop.” “A lot of times people don’t get it,” she
Her friend and fellow performer, Marya Rybak, 13, nodded as she watched
Garmager give instruction to cast dancing during the musical chairs number
“She has to be able to break it down so everyone gets it,” Rybak said. But
the trials and tribulations of rehearsals are worth it for what the cast
themselves is calling a must-see performance. “It’s kind of crazy, it’s kind
of vague,” Rybak said.
Rybak will be performing in two roles — the Cheshire Cat and Tweedle Dum.
Her best friend Kyle Herman gets to work alongside her as Tweedle Dee. But
it’s her characterization of the Cheshire Cat that really amuses her. “The
Cheshire cat is kind of funny, kind of crazy,” she said.
Casey Wexler, 13, said she is looking forward to her role as the Queen of
Hearts. Wexler who has performed in other shows before is really excited
this role which is very different from any other she’s undertaken. “This is
my role where I am really evil,” she said. “I am kind of bossy.” But Wexler
welcomes the opportunity to prove her mettle on stage. “I really like it,”
she said. “It gives me a chance to try out different roles.”
The sets will be created with an imaginative flair. Expect things like
moving waves and other professional touches. “We’re going to have some
pretty crazy sets,” Rybak said.
Angelo doled out responsibilities such as creating the sets and the
choreography so the students have more hands-on experience with the nuts and
bolts of creating a show.
Angelo said “Alice in Wonderland JR” is a good fit for the student
performers since it involves imagination.“And it’s something a lot of our
students are familiar with,” he said.
Angelo said working on school performances helps set students up for a
future in the arts. A number of students from The Sanibel School have since
gone on to art-based high schools, among them Cypress Lake High School in
Fort Myers. Kacie Phillips, a former Sanibel School student, is a rising
starlet about to graduate Cypress Lake after a fabulous run during her final
year as Charity in the school’s award-winning “Sweet Charity.”
This week Cypress Lake Center for the Arts took awards in six categories at
the state HIgh School Musical Awards ceremony: Best School Spirt for school
involvement, attendance, advertisement, etc.; Best Orchastra; Best
Technical Merit for the play’s set design and CGI backgrounds; Runner-up
Supporting Male Actor — Michael Nance for his role as Vittori Vidal, the
Latin movie star; and Runner-up Best Male Actor in a Lead Role — Jeremy
Miller for his portrayal of Oscar Linquist. Kacie, for her part, won Best
Actress in a Lead Role for her Charity Hope Valentine performance. Even with
all those awards, "Sweet Charity" only won Runner-up Best Musical
Production, losing to North Fort Myers’ production of "Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat."
But set designs, costumes, rehearsals, and possible later-on awards aside,
perhaps the most important role for the student shows is the community. “I
hope that they will have a large audience,” Angelo said. “They really
perform much better when they have a large crowd.”
The cast is sure the community will want to see their latest thespian
efforts. “I think it’s kind of more professional than anything we we have
done before,” Garmager said.
Rybak slid down on the stage for a second during rehearsal to encourage the
community to see her and the cast sing and dance their hearts out during
thir whimsical, fantastical “Alice in Wonderland JR.”
“I think people are going to be impressed,” she said.